But, with 24/7 access to the Chicago Wolves in Abbotsford this past weekend, there was juicy material to be had. So the Canucks.com team went to work following the Wolves from sun up to sun down on Friday, October 19th.
8:20 a.m. PST – We start our day with a little continental breakfast in the hotel; Nathan Longpre is the first of the players to arrive. Two pieces of whole wheat toast with some peanut butter on top, one creamy vanilla cherry yogurt, a bowl of cereal, and some orange juice. Alex Friesen, Taylor Matson, Guillaume Desbiens and Brett Sterling enter the room shortly after, “Fruit Loops!” said Desbiens. You have never seen a larger man so excited about Fruit Loops.
9:00 – Michael and Kelly comes on the television, the First Lady of the United States is a guest on the show. Zack Kassian and Brett Sterling have a quick discussion about what corner stores are called. “It’s Variety store,” said Kassian, “No, it’s Convenience store,” said Sterling. “Variety Store!”… “Convenience Store!”
9:09 – Andrew Ebbett and his beard join the party. The lady running the breakfast was a little hesitant to let him in, “Breakfast closes at 9, but I will let you in, no more after you,” said Fran, the breakfast room attendant.
9:13 – Down come two more hungry-hungry Wolves in Eddie Lack and Billy Sweatt. Problem though, the door to the restaurant is now locked. “Knock, knock,” no answer. “I can see Ebbett and his beard in there eating,” said Sweatt, clearly very hungry and frustrated. Door opens, “Okay you can come in, but no more after you” said Fran.
9:20 – Out in the lobby of the hotel a few of the players relax in the comfy chairs and discuss everything from A-Rod on the front page of the NY Times, the Seahawks/49ers Thursday Night Football game, and of course, the weather, which was rainy and cold.
9:22 – “Variety Store!”… “Convenience Store!”
9:43 – One more straggler and we are on the bus, ready to hit the road for a whopping 6.8 KM trip to the Abbotsford Sports and Entertainment Center, which is eight minutes away according to Apple Maps.
9:52 – Arrival! Nine minutes? Forget you, Apple Maps.
10:09 – The players change into their warm-up clothes and Chris Tanev and Longpre don’t waste any time before engaging in a friendly game of soccer in the hallway, while Kassian works on his stick for the game; a nice tape job, a little wax and good to go.
10:16 – Back down the hallway the soccer game has now reached nine players as Kassian and Alex Friesen join the gang. Who is the best at hallway soccer? “The Europeans,” Kevin Connauton said, “Probably Anton Rodin.”
10:27 – The big hallway soccer game starts to die down, as it’s now only down to three guys, Rodin is one of them, but we get the feeling he could play all day.
10:54 – As the players gear up, As She’s Walking Away by the Zac Brown Band plays in the room, followed by Dust On The Bottle by David Lee Murphy, a little country feel before the morning skate.
11:09 – Tanev throws in a couple pieces of gum before the skate, “Double Bubble” he said trying to chew through the first few bites. Zamboni is done and the players head out for a short game-day skate.
11:10 – Wait! “Not so fast,” said Coach Arniel, “Let the ice freeze.”
11:11 – Okay, now they can go.
11:46 – Practice comes to an end for the guys slated to play later that night, the rest of the guys stay out for some extra skating with assistant coach Mike Foligno. The highlight of the skate was a beautiful forehand to backhand deke that saw Sweatt put the puck past goaltender Eddie Lack followed by a celebration. “You are going to have a big game tonight, I can feel it,” Andrew Gordon said to him.
12:20 p.m. – After a couple quick interviews with members of the media, the first bus takes the guys back to the hotel for some lunch, today’s menu is:Baby roasted potatoes
Penne Pasta and cheese tortellini
Grilled chicken breast
Choice of, tomato Bolognese sauce, roasted tomato sauce, and pesto cream
Raw veggies and salad
And for dessert, an Ice Cream sundae station!
12:58 – Most of the players finish up lunch and head out, while the second bus with the rest of the team and coaching staff enter. “Better be some food left,” said Coach Foligno. After lunch the players will hit their rooms for a little pre-game nap to get re-charged and ready for the big tilt against the Heat.
1:02 – We also take the time to fit in a pre-game nap…
3:30 – Beep, beep, beep. BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, the alarm goes off and now it’s time to “suit up” as Barney Stinson would say.
4:28 – Bus arrives out front of the hotel for its scheduled 4:45 departure. The players discuss who is in charge of the tunes for the dressing room prior to the game; Kassian puts in a request for Radar Love by Golden Earring.
4:45 – The wheels on the bus start to go round and round, its go-time, off to the rink for the big game.
4:55 –We arrive once again at the rink, now it’s time for the guys to get serious, but maybe one quick game of hallway soccer before they get too serious. The players change into their shorts and t-shirts and once again gather for a friendly game of ‘keep the ball up in the air’. While the guys get warmed up, we head for a quick pre-game dinner.
5:42 – After some chicken and rice, and maybe a couple cookies, we head out to see what the players are up to, and believe it or not, they are still playing soccer in the hallway, but down to only five guys left and yes, Rodin is one of them. The guy loves it.
6:28 – Both teams take to the ice for warm-ups with Light up the Sky by Thousand Foot Krutch blasting over the speaker system.
6:41 – Warm-ups over, Zambonis take to the ice, the wait begins.
7:00 – The Wolves make their way onto the ice to some big cheers from the crowd, while the Heat come out to Fire it Up by Thousand Foot Krutch; they love their TFR here in Abbotsford.
7:03 – Cue the anthem signer as she belts out both The Star-Spangled Banner and O Canada.
7:07 – Puck drop, and as former UFC ref John McCarthy would say, “Let’s get it on!” For a full recap of the game, check out Wolves This Week.
9:46 – Kassian scores the shootout winner and the fans erupt in cheers as the Wolves win 3-2 and improve to 4-0-0-0 on the season.
10:00 – Media time for the players. First up: Kassian, followed by Lack and Coach Arniel.
10:26 – After showering and changing, the players gather onto the bus, but not before stopping to sign a few autographs for some Canucks and Wolves fans outside.
10:37 – The bus arrives back at hotel and it’s straight to the post-game meal. Almost an identical menu as lunch, and yes, the ice cream sundae station is still there!
11:15 – The players finish up their meals and head straight to their rooms for some much-needed sleep before doing it all over again tomorrow.