On the road with the Steelheads

The Smithers Steelheads’ bus isn’t anything fancy.

The Smithers Steelheads’ bus isn’t anything fancy.

It’s a commercial bus that fits more than 30 people.

On Saturday, some two dozen people sit stretched out in the seats side-by-side.

With the faint sound of country music in the background, the team bus pulls out of the arena parking lot destined for Terrace.

It’s not as noisy as you would expect a bus full of hockey players to be.

Conversations are quiet; most players seem to be concentrated on the task at hand — playing game two of the best-of-three playoff series against the Terrace River Kings.

Each of the 12 players on this road trip has their own way of preparing for the game.

Some listen to music, others joke around and many take the two-and-a-half-hour long bus ride to rest up.

“I think about the game before I go on the road trip,” said assistant coach Darryl Devries.

“I think when you come on the bus, you don’t think about the game too often. You just have a good time,” added Devries.

Rookie Wyatt Vanderheyden uses the days leading up to the trip to focus.

“Just make sure you’re eating right, drinking lots of water, preparing yourself mentally, knowing that you gotta put it all out there and get the [win],” said Vanderheyden.

A handful of guys have been playing together for years and are used to life on the road.

While for others, it is their first season with the team.

But one thing is clear — their sense of camaraderie both on and off the ice.

“I enjoy being on the road, it’s fun. You get to hang out with everyone, it’s kind of a bonding thing,” said forward Skylar Hasell, a former Houston Lucky.

Devries agreed.

“Everyone gets along and I don’t think there’s another team in the league who has as good of a time as us, who gels like us,” he said.

Win or lose, each player packs up his gear, the same way they did only hours earlier and loads it back onto the bus for the long ride home.

The country music comes on the system again and they are off, almost as soon as they came, trying to put a 5-3 loss behind them.

Saturday’s game was  disappointing for the team — one coaches shared as well.

On Sunday, the Steelheads dropped the final playoff game 4-3 to the River Kings, signaling the end of another year.

The season ended similar to how it began — on the road playing against their west divsion rivals..


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