Ever wondered what went into making a road trip a reality during the playoffs?
When the Adirondack Thunder found out their Round 2 opponent on Saturday evening, they had a very short window to create a travel schedule for 30 people to go from Glens Falls to North Charleston by Wednesday morning.
It’s easy enough to book trips during the regular season, with the schedule known months in advance, but with only a few days’ notice in the postseason, the front office and hockey operations staff put in some overtime and a little bit of creativity to ensure everyone touched down in South Carolina.
To put the chaos into a bit of perspective, travel was especially difficult this time of year, with many schools on their yearly April vacation, putting flights and hotels at a premium. With usual flight times and preferred hotels more booked than usual, the Thunder had to use some less-conventional methods to get the team to South Carolina with proper advance of their weekend series.
Today’s Travel Itinerary:
3:30 AM: Yes…….3:30 AM!!!! The team began to arrive at the Glens Falls Civic Center before the crack of dawn to begin a long morning of travel. Time was of the essence as Thunder equipment manager Brian Sersch led the packing of the team’s travel bus for the hour-long ride down the Northway to Albany Airport.
4:00 AM: The Thunder depart from Glens Falls with 23 players and six staff. The bus is quieter than usual….as one might expect at four in the morning. Thunder coaches Cail MacLean and Alex Loh took time on the trip to ensure that all players were clear on which flights they were to take.
4:50 AM: The team arrived at Albany International Airport with just over an hour to get nearly 30 people checked into their flight and over 50 bags checked, consisting of everything ranging from player equipment to a skate sharpening machine to team toiletries.
With the late notice, the Thunder had to fly down separately on two different flights out of Albany.
5:00 AM: Thunder staff assign team bags to players as their “checked” luggage to ensure all necessary items are stowed safely aboard the aircraft. Side Note: Organizing flights for 30 people and 50 bags is A LOT of work. Kudos to all who put in the extra effort to make sure everything went smoothly. And to coordinate this on a lack of sleep at five in the morning makes it all the more impressive.
5:25 AM: All players and staff are checked in with their tickets with 25 minutes until their flights. Most players have made their way to airport security but the staff are up against the clock to get through to their flights.
5:42 AM: All staff clear through TSA with eight minutes to spare before boarding ends on their 6 AM flight.
5:50 AM / 6:00 AM: The Thunder depart for their connecting flights, through Baltimore and (rainy) Washington DC, on route to the Charleston International Airport.
7:05 AM / 7:20 AM: The Thunder land in Baltimore and Washington DC respectively to transfer onto their second flight of the morning before most of Glens Falls has woken up to begin their day.
9:45 AM: The first Thunder group touches down in South Carolina and picks up two, 15-passenger vans to transport players from the airport to the team hotel in North Charleston.
10:40 AM: The second Thunder group reaches South Carolina nearly an hour later and begins work retrieving all luggage from both flights to transport to the Stingrays’ practice facility, the Charleston Ice Palace. The team has also rented a box truck to help move gear.
Noon: As the morning finally transitions into the afternoon, all 29 members of the Thunder’s travel group, along with all 52 pieces of baggage have made their way to the team hotel in North Charleston.
1:30 PM: After lunch, the Thunder hockey operations and front office staff that made the trip unload the box truck at the Ice Palace, in advance of tomorrow’s team practice. The Thunder are borrowing The Citadel’s ACHA Hockey Team’s locker room for the day, a rather nice facility for a club hockey team if we do say so ourselves.
2:00 PM: Nearly 11 hours after the day began, the Thunder’s travel for the day has finally completed and the boys are able to get a bit of well-deserved rest.