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Hockey: Ohio makes the long haul to Iowa State for top ten matchup

In November 2012, Ohio assistant coach Kyle Schussler — then a minor pro hockey player in Arizona — and his team were halfway through a 25-hour bus trip to Rapid City, South Dakota, when smoke began pouring from the bus’s engine.

“It caught fire, so everybody had to pile out pretty quick,” Schussler said, recalling this instance with the now-defunct Arizona Sundogs. “And then we were stuck on the side of the highway for about six hours.”

That kind of travel experience is absurd, even in the world of minor pro sports.

It also makes the Bobcats’ 12-hour bus ride to Ames, Iowa, ahead of No. 2 Ohio’s weekend series against No. 7 Iowa State, look easy.

Ohio plans to arrive in Iowa at about 9 a.m. CDT on Friday. It’s the team’s longest trip of the season, but head coach Sean Hogan said the half-day ride isn’t "really that bad."

“These kids have all played in junior leagues where they’ve had long bus rides, so this is nothing new to any of them,” Hogan said.

An all-night bus ride gives the players a chance to sleep. In the early portion of the ride they’ll probably put in a movie, which Hogan and Schussler agree should be the comedic jewel, Semi-Pro.

“I’d like to watch that one every trip if we can,” Hogan said with a laugh.

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After the bus ride though, Hogan will be concerned with getting rid of what he called “bus legs.”

Spending such a significant period of time on the bus is troubling for blood flow in the players’ legs, so Hogan decided the team will hit Iowa State’s rink for about half an hour immediately upon arrival.

“Instead of sitting around all day, they’ll sleep on the bus, and then we’ll wake up,” Hogan said. “We’ll be at the rink, and we’ll just go through some real basic stuff just to get on the ice and get adjusted to the morning.”

After a quick skate Friday morning, Hogan said the Bobcats will get to their hotel for check-in, eat and then have time to nap for three or four hours and recharge before their biggest test so far this season.

Like Ohio, Iowa State is off to a 6-0 start. What separates the Cyclones is that they’ve already faced a quality opponent in reigning national champion Central Oklahoma. Iowa State swept Central Oklahoma, winning 5-4 and 4-1 last weekend. 

Hogan said the first few minutes of Friday night’s game will be fast-paced and Ohio will have to bring energy to avoid falling behind. Schussler, on the other hand, noted the team’s quirky travel schedule might catch up to them by Saturday’s game.

“That first day normally you can get well prepared,” Schussler said. “The second night, sometimes the fatigue hits you a little bit more, so, hopefully we can be good for the whole weekend.”


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