Stars fans, over the next month or so, I will be keeping a diary of my experiences at the 2012 IIHF Men’s World Championships. This is my first time playing for Team USA at any level, and believe it or not, it’s also my first trip overseas. During this time, I will be writing about hockey, travel, interesting experiences, and really anything that comes to mind. Hope everyone enjoys reading it!
Days 1 & 2
The first couple of days of the trip have really been a complete blur, as it was actually one long travel day. It all started with a 5:45am Mountain time wake-up call. All packed up from the night before, I was just hoping that I had everything I needed for a month of travel. Once I loaded my two hockey bags, 12 sticks, and my personal luggage into my truck, I was off to Denver International Airport.
Richard Bachman’s view on his first trans-Atlantic flight, en route to Team USA’s pre-World Championships camp in Sweden.
While checking in for my flight, I ran into Paul Stastny and team physician Yani Zinis of the Colorado Avalanche. This was the first time I had met Stastny, and quickly we started talking college hockey. He went to Denver and I went to Colorado College, so there was a lot of rivalry talk to cover. From there we boarded our first flight to meet up with the rest of the team in Newark, New Jersey.
Right away, I saw one familiar face on the team, Alex Goligoski (also known as ‘Goose’) from the Stars. I met up with him and the majority of other guys I will be playing with, and right away there were lots of introductions, and trying to put faces to the names I’ve seen and heard around the NHL.
Soon after, we boarded our second flight of the day and took off for Frankfurt, Germany. This was my first international flight and I wasn't sure what to expect of a flight that was over 7 hours long. Maybe it was the business class seats that reclined all the way, the three course meal, or my excitement, but it wasn't really that bad. Though the food was a little different than I expected, it was a pretty good flight. I watched the new Mission Impossible movie and tried to get some sleep before we landed at 7:30 in the morning. Getting off that plane was a little more difficult thought, because in my head it was only 11:30 at night.
From there we moved gates, which by the way, had to be the longest walk in airport history. Before we knew it, we were back on another plane heading for Stockholm, Sweden. This is where I had my second in-flight breakfast… I guess cold cuts and cheese is the Scandinavian form of eggs and bacon, because I had it twice in as many flights. Once in Stockholm, I think most guys would have liked to get into bed, but we weren't done yet. The final leg of the long trip was a two-hour bus ride into a small town called Gavle, Sweden, and we were finally at our destination a little after 12pm.
Lunch was set up and I continued to try and meet all my new teammates. There are guys from all over the States and the NHL, and it’s pretty cool getting to know all the other players, who are all real good people. In the evening, as we all were fighting with our sleep-deprived bodies, we managed to strap on our pads and went for an hour-and-a-half practice. With so little time before the tournament starts, we had a lot of systems to go over. It was a little shaky at times with heavy legs from all that travel, but I made it through it.
After practice, we went to the hotel and had a big team dinner, again lots of cold cuts and I started to notice that potatoes are included in every meal, as well. Dinner was nice, but everyone was really just looking forward to the sleep that was coming. I am with rooming with Cam Atkinson from the Columbus Blue Jackets, and I have come to find out that we have a lot in common. I will save that story for another day though, as I’m sure I’m going to be asleep in no time. Till next time…