Three games in three nights on the road | A physically and mentally demanding weekend awaits the Rocket

(Laval) We know that the schedule of American Hockey League teams is dotted with physically and mentally demanding sequences. The one that the Laval Rocket players are preparing to experience this weekend could be particularly trying.

Starting Friday, Jean-François Houle’s men will play three matches in three different cities in the United States, all within an interval of less than 48 hours.

The Rocket (20-19-6, 46 points) will begin this tripleheader at 7 p.m. by visiting the Hartford Wolf Pack, fourth in the Atlantic Division with 53 points.

Saturday, starting at 6:05 p.m., the Laval team will cross swords with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, who rank just ahead of the Wolf Pack.

Finally, on Sunday, in a match scheduled for 3 p.m., the Rocket will battle the Bridgeport Islanders, last in the Atlantic section with only 32 points in 45 games.

If this last match may seem easier for the Rocket because it is a potentially less dangerous opponent than the first two, it will come at the end of bus rides which will have totaled more than 1100 km, including the hike carried out on Wednesday between Laval and Hartford, approximately 560 km long.

Dose the energy

With his extensive American League experience, Houle is well aware of all the disadvantages associated with such a trip. He knows just as well the preparation required, and the conditions to be respected to collect as many points as possible in the ranking.

“You have to make sure you sleep well, eat well, that’s for sure, to have the right energy. As a team, you have to try to get ahead because when you play catch-up hockey, it catches up with you,” Houle explained Tuesday, some 24 hours before the team left for Hartford.

“You get to the second and third game, you travel, you play in between, fatigue sets in and it’s harder to come from behind. So, if you can get a head start in the matches, that helps a lot,” added Houle.

Essentially, the key lies in the dosage of energy, especially on the ice, but also off the ice.

“It’s about keeping the games simple, not trying to force things too much. Play a game on the quiet road, don’t wake up the other team,” said the Rocket head coach.

“It’s a lot of traveling too. We won’t have many morning practices, we’ll let the guys sleep. Our meetings will be really short. We decided to leave on Wednesday instead of Thursday, to avoid spending three consecutive days on the bus. On Thursday, we will have a little training, it will be relaxed and the guys will go have a good dinner somewhere,” Houle also listed.

A unique experience

The tripleheader that awaits the Rocket this weekend will be his second of three this season, and also the second for defenseman Tobie Bisson since the start of his career in the American League.

At the end of December, Bisson had also played three matches in as many days, but in an entirely different context and much more favorable to the Laval squad.

“We played the last two games at home (against the Syracuse Crunch after a match in Belleville), and then we had the holiday break,” Bisson first recalled.

“Whoever’s coming, it’s going to be another game. It’s going to be good learning for the young people,” said Bisson, who remembers having experienced similar sequences in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

In the eyes of Xavier Simoneau, such a trip can help a team grow, because it is the kind of sequence that takes players out of their comfort zone.

“It’s difficult physically, it’s difficult mentally too,” admits the Rocket striker. It’s going to be up to us to find a way to win, to get points. It’s up to us to face adversity and get through it as a team.

“It’s like that for all clubs, we don’t have any excuses. We have the chance to leave on Wednesday, we will recover on Thursday and we will be ready. »


Leave a Comment