Travel In The AHL Is Not That Bad

Friday, October 23, 2015
Tim Brent endured some pretty interesting travel while playing overseas in the KHL.
All the talk about the travel schedule for AHL teams - the three games in three nights weekends like the one the Lehigh Valley Phantoms begin tonight in Providence - makes it seem that the traveling these hockey players endure in North America is unbearable.

After talking with forwards Tim Brent and Aaron Palushaj - who have played overseas in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) - players in North America should be counting their blessings when it comes to traveling to road games.

During Brent's run to the KHL championship in 2013-14 with Magnitogorsk, their first round playoff match up saw them face Vladivostok - a team roughly 7,229 kilometers (4,740 miles) to the far east coast just 100 or so kilometers north of the country North Korea.

"In playoffs the first two rounds you play back-to-back at home, travel on your day off and play back-to-back on the road for the first four games," Brent recalled. "Our travel on our day off was a 9 hour flight and a five hour time difference. We basically had to stay on our Magnitogorsk time [schedule], so we would eat at like 3 a.m. and not sleep until 6 a.m. It was certainly an interesting experience."

Google Maps has the flight from Magnitogorsk to Vladivostok at just over 17 hours. It makes a four and a half hour bus ride up to Providence, Rhode Island seem like a cake walk, right?

"It’s a little different," Brent said of comparing the travel schedule between the two leagues. "You’re flying every game over there so it’s probably a little easier – not that a 9-hr flight is fun. It’s funny, there’s a lot of things that as a young player you take for granted and then when you go overseas and realize how good you have it here, kind of makes you appreciate it when you come back."

Palushaj encountered a similar wild travel situation last season in the KHL while playing with Zagreb Medvescak - a team based in Croatia. A road trip to Astana, Kazakhstan - roughly 4,856 kilometers (3,017 miles) - left Palushaj and his team feeling some serious jet-lag.

"We had a 7-hour flight then we morning skated at, it was 9 oclock there time which would have been 2 a.m. our time," Palushaj recalled. "Then we played a 5 o’clock game which felt like 11 a.m. We were like zombies on the ice. We didn’t really have a chance to win that one."

"The worst part is getting to bed late," Palushaj explained. "It’s not so much the travel it’s more the sleep."

Last weekend, the Phantoms had a four hour bus ride up to Springfield for last Friday night's game against the Falcons followed by a four hour bus ride home before having to take the one-hour trip up the Pennsylvania turnpike to Wilkes-Barre for a 4:05 p.m. game against the Penguins. 

This weekend, it's a four and a half hour ride to Providence (which the team made Thursday), followed by a four and a half hour ride back to Allentown after tonight's game for a pair of home games Saturday and Sunday night at the PPL Center. It seems like a lot, but compared to the time zone differences and lengthy flights in the KHL it isn't too bad.

"I didn’t hear too many younger guys complaining about too much about the trip," Palushaj said of the overnight bus ride home from Springfield. "Maybe a little bit tired, but I think that’s everybody – everybody is in the same boat there. As soon as the younger guys start complaining I’ll definitely say something."



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