TORONTO- A quick glance at the Toronto Marlies schedule may have you believe that they are heading into three, long grueling weeks of hockey. That, however, is not the case.
The Marlies open up an eight-game road trip on Friday that spans 21 days, but not all of that time will be spent in hotels in other cities because of how the games are spread out.
“It’s a little bit deceiving,” said Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins about the road trip. “We start in Hamilton, which is close, and we’re in town a few days before we head to Abbotsford.”
Toronto heads to Hamilton to face the Bulldogs on Friday and because there are five days in between contests, the club will head home and practice for a few days. Then they will fly to Abbotsford to face the Heat in back-to-back meetings. From there it’s three stops in Texas, one in Oklahoma City and finally they wrap it all up with their eighth game back in Hamilton on Nov.16th.
“We’re going to play in Abbotsford, bus to Seattle, fly to Houston, practice in Houston, three games in Texas, bus to Oklahoma City, bus it to Dallas and then fly home,” said Eakins about how travel will work for his team.
For Eakins, this type of trip is normal because every year he’s been the head coach the Royal Winter Fair has taken over the Ricoh Coliseum for a minimum of three weeks in late October. Last season the Marlies squeezed nine games into 20 days on their “Royal road trip” and came away with a 3-4-2 record.
Mark Owuya and Jussi Rynnas split all the action in goal because Ben Scrivens was up with the Marlies parent-club Toronto Maple Leafs.
Nazem Kadri also missed last year’s trip, for the same reason as Scrivens, and he’s looking forward to the experience ahead.
“It’s honestly fun,” said Kadri about going out on the road. “It’s a chance to be with the guys all the time. I enjoy being around them and I’d much rather be on the road trip than not be. I’ve missed road trips before because of injuries and that’s not good. I’m pretty excited. The whole Texas road trip is great. You get a little bit of sun and it’s exciting to go to different places,” he added.
In all, the Marlies will only spend 14 nights on the road because of their trip starting and finishing in Hamilton.
Their next game at home will be on Nov. 17th when they host the Bulldogs.
Defenceman Mark Fraser missed practice on Wednesday with flu-like symptoms and is day-to-day.
“Fraser came in not feeling great, lethargic,” said Eakins. “And I like those guys right out of the dressing room because I don’t want them coming through the room, so I sent him home.”
Even with removing the big blue liner from the dressing room, whatever is ailing him has already got to Korbinian Holzer, who made it to practice but left the ice less than 30 minutes into drills.
“We sent Holzer home too,” said Eakins. “They’re partners and now they’re both sick.”
Defenceman Paul Ranger, who has missed the last four games with an undisclosed injury, returned to practice and he could be back in the lineup on Friday as he’s been fully cleared to play.