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Practice Report: Ducks Visit Banff to Refocus, Relax and Prepare

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks

By Kyle Shohara

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BANFF, Alberta – Nestled deep within Alberta’s Rockies in the little town of Banff is a comfy little hockey rink with a cabin-like exterior. Along with a single NHL-sized sheet of ice are four sheets of ice for curling and a view like none other.

Welcome to the Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre – Anaheim’s practice facility for the next two days. A scheduling quirk in the Ducks-Flames series that has two full days between games allowed for the Ducks to get away from the the city of Calgary and enjoy the scenery and the tranquility that Banff has to offer.

Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau says the idea spawned from a conversation amongst members of the team’s hockey operations staff. “We just wanted to get out of the [city],” he said. “We used to do that when we were younger, and I know Bob [Murray] did it in Chicago. When I was in Toronto, we’d go out in the country to get away from the hustle and bustle, and let our minds not think about what’s going on. Sometimes you just want to get away.”

“It’s beautiful. Obviously, we’re staying at a world-class resort. You look around and it’s beautiful.” -- Ryan Kesler

The locals here say wildlife encounters are a way of life, and it isn’t uncommon to see deer, elk, or even bears crossing the roads in and around Banff. So when Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin laughed and said the team bus experienced a brief delay because of an animal crossing, he was being serious.

“On the way here, a grizzly bear crossed the road,” he said, “I love this kind of wildlife. This morning I went for a walk by the waterfalls along the river and saw five deer crossing my path. It was a good time.”

Beauchemin is a first-timer to Banff, so when he opened the curtains of his hotel room this morning, he was blown away by the scenery. “I have a beautiful view of the river and the mountains,” he said. “It’s a beautiful place.”

Judging by the mood of the players today, it appears they have already put last night’s 4-3 overtime loss behind them. The Ducks were 20 seconds away from taking a commanding 3-0 series lead, but a goal off the stick of 21-year-old Johnny Gaudreau set the stage for a Calgary comeback capped off by Mikael Backlund’s overtime winner.

Last night, the players said to a man it wasn’t their best game, and captain Ryan Getzlaf admitted they made far too many mistakes, uncharacteristic for a team which entered the game undefeated in postseason play.

So perhaps this trip was well-timed, but the proof will be in the pudding come Friday. “It’s good for us to get away from the city, refocus and enjoy today,” said Beauchemin. “We know we didn’t play good enough to win, but coming here to relax and re-energize, that’s the reason why we came here.”

“It’s a good thing we got it out of the way early,” said Ryan Kesler, on the team’s first loss of the postseason. “You can’t go 16-0. It’s pretty damn-near impossible. This morning the guys were loose and having fun, just getting away from hockey, relaxing and enjoying it up here. Tomorrow we’ll get back to work.”

Like Beauchemin, Kesler opted to hold his interview outside under a blanket of snow. Also a first-timer to the area, Kesler says Banff is similar to another scenic location he’s been to, with one exception. “I did it last year before the [season] started,” Kesler said. “I went up to Langara [British Columbia] to one of the fishing lodges. It was pretty nice up there, so this is basically the same feeling, except you have cellphone service up here."

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