It might come as a surprise to some (or to absolutely noone) that hockey teams have a lot of equipment. When you multiply that amount of equipment by 20+ players and four members of hockey operations, it adds up to a lot that needs to safely travel from city to city for road games.
Over the course of the 2021-22 season, the Fuel have traveled to eight different cities. Six of those cities are traveled to by bus. For longer road trips, the team takes a sleeper bus to provide extra comfort.
Friday night the Fuel packed up for their very last trek of the season to Wheeling, WV before heading to Toledo, OH the next day. We’re here to bring you an inside look at what that process looks like – from gathering all the equipment, to getting it all on the bus, to claiming a comfortable seat, to what guys do on the trip.
This is just a small fraction of what needs to get loaded on the bus. Every guy has to pack their skates, gloves, equipment, sticks and much more.
Before the load-in process begins, the guys gather in the locker room for a quick team meeting with Coach Duncan.
PACKING IT UP
With so much stuff, it's all hockey hands on deck to help load up.
It's a big sleeper bus, but with over 20 grown men and lots of stuff, where does it all go?
These busses have a ton of storage. A trailer attached to the back holds most of the equipment, but there are compartments under the bus that hold a lot too.
For things like snacks and personal belongings, the inside of the bus has lots of cabinet space.
Before we show you the inside of the bus, meet this weekend's driver, Les! He's going to get our guys safely from Wheeling, to Toledo and back home again.
Les has driven these buses for years. He says that the very same busses our guys take on these long road trips were often used by bands traveling around the country on the now defunct Vans Warped Tour.
Inside of the bus is loaded with everything the guys need to comfortably make the trek to West Virginia. In addition to multiple bunks, there are comfy couches, TVs, WiFi, a freezer and refridgerator, cabinets to store utensils and even a microwave and toaster!
As soon as you walk into the bus, you see a spacious lounge and some bunks.
In the middle of the bus are twelve bunks, two stacks of three (six total) on each side. When we asked Fuel forward Jan Mandat about bunk hierarchy and if certain guys had claims to certain bunks, he said it's all first-come, first-serve. He then proceeded to say he needed to claim his bunk and "maybe i'll have to kick a younger guy out." That's fair.
As you make your way to the back of the bus, you're met with another lounge. There is a large, wraparound couch with two top bunks and a bunk in the very back.
Once everything is packed up, it's time to load the most precious cargo – the hockey players themselves.
Once the journey begins, guys find different ways to keep themselves occupied. Some guys take a much needed nap. Others watch TV. Some play cards together.
Fuel forward CJ Eick on his road trip routine: "My bus routine is read til I’m tired enough to fall asleep. Spotify playlist is filled with bands like, The Grateful Dead, Cordovas, sturgill Simpson, and arts fishing club."
Safe travels, boys!