10/16/08 - SPRINGFIELD, MO - Much like I did during the Ice Bears trip to Estero, Florida in February for games against Florida Gulf Coast, the following words, pictures and video will chronicle the Ice Bears journey to the 2008 American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division 2 Showcase in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Day One, Thursday, October 16th, 2008

5:53am - I arrive at Mediacom Ice Park and the bus is already here. Tom is the driver. I find out that he's shuttled the Peoria Rivermen and the Wheeling Naliers around before moving to this area. He became the favored driver of the Nailers when he punched a heckler in the face at intermission of a game.

It's dark and early - even a bit cold - but I'm not weary about it. I know there will always be time to sleep on the bus. Clayton Baker is the first to arrive. Soon more show up. I ask John Odenwald if he's ready. "No, not for a 17 hour bus ride, but for the games, definitely," said Odenwald.

6:30am - Most of the team has arrived. We're just getting the last bags packed and we're on the road. Walt, our favored bus driver will meet us in Indianapolis to drive us into Hershey.

Joe Combs gives the thumbs up just before we get ready to head out.

I'm still confused why the ACHA calls the Showcase as being in Hershey when it's actually being played in Twin Bridges-East Ice Arena in Harrisburg. Perhaps it was too late to change the location on the stationary?

6:54am - We're all on the bus and heading up Interstate 44 toward St. Louis. Legs are sprawled across the seats and isle ways as every inch of floor space is converted into beds. It won't be a problem until you have to make your way to the on board restroom in the back of the bus. We'll make a short stop at Webster Groves Ice Arena, then continue up Interstate-44 to Interstate 70 and make our way to Indianapolis.

10:38 - We're at Webster Groves Ice Arena. It's a quick stop to pick up Coach Mike Schroeder and Michael Brown. I take a look at the ice rink sitting empty and reflect back on the Ice Bears 7-4 win over the Missouri Tigers on November 23rd of last year.

11:07am - Nick Zamora puts in a DVD. We're going to watch "Happy Gilmore." My favorite part is when Bob Barker and Adam Sandler square off in the movie during a celebrity tournament.

1:30pm - Or is it 2:30pm? We just passed the Indiana state line. Just now my cell phone gained an hour. We are supposed to meet Walt, our normal bus driver, in Indianapolis at 2:30pm. Daylight savings time can be a really strange thing for residents here, much less visitors. Joe Combs puts in a DVD. We're going to watch "Iron Man." Potato chip bags litter my seat as remnants of my breakfast. Now I have to find the restroom, it's going to be tough trying to maneuver on top of the seat backs to get to rear of the bus.

3:10pm (eastern) - Indiana looks nice. Some rolling hills and the trees are changing colors already. The team is getting anxious to eat. We are going to stop at a restaurant called the Ponderosa. Off in the distance is downtown Indianapolis.

Traffic flows as we zip through the town.

4:45pm - Now that we are all full, it's off to Ohio. Walt is now driving the bus. There's an impromptu poker game going on in the back.

It's time for another DVD. Paul Moellenberg puts it in the player, it's " Major League".

I can hear the music now...."Wild thing! I think I love you!"

7:55pm - It's night time and we have made it through Indiana. We're now halfway through Ohio. The Flying -J truck stop is our dinner spot. A quick refueling and we're back on the road. Joe Combs asks how much longer and I tell him 5 more hours. Hockey highlights from 2001 are running on the DVD player as the individual passenger bus lights hover over us.

9:52pm - We've made it into the state where the US Constitution was signed; Pennsylvania. Mile markers and 18-wheelers are the only identifiable features in the darkness. I see a sign; Bentleyville 6 miles. Lights concentrate on the back of the bus, the poker game is still going on. It's interesting that it's pretty quiet back there. BJ Norman comes to the seat in front of me to get some snacks. I ask him why it's so quiet. "It's getting pretty intense, I guess," he replies.

10:18pm - "The Big Lebowski" is now in the DVD player. Perhaps it's just background noise, or a way to keep our eyes forward as we look for the first sign of getting closer to Harrisburg.

11:06pm - We are going to make a stop at a rest area in Somerset, Pennsylvania. It's near the area where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed on September 11th, 2001. I check the map board inside the Roy Rogers. We are 134 miles, or about 2 hours and 14 minutes from Harrisburg. Many of us are tired, but surprisingly the long trip doesn't seem to be that bad despite gaining an hour.

1:58am (eastern) - Arrival! After 18 hours on the bus, two drivers, and three stops, we have arrived at the Comfort Inn - Riverfront in Harrisburg. It's has a nicer upscale interior, but small. We drag our stuff off the bus and welcome sleep. I'm sure we probably will not do anything prior to about noon. Talk to you tomorrow...... later today I mean.
Our view from the hotel room.
 

Day Two, Friday, October 17th, 2008

8:07am (eastern) - Waking up and looking outside I notice that we have a river view. Breakfast, your basic continental variety, was good. Except for Stan, Curt, Walt and myself, everyone else is still sleeping.

10:48am (eastern) - I think I got some decent sleep. I know the team did. Calling the rooms to tell the boys about the optional trip to the Gettysburg Battlefield at noon lead to several comments of: "huh....what.....I'm sleeping!"

1:37pm (eastern) - About 21 of us decided to take the Gettysburg Tour. It's an auto tour that you can drive through. Our first stop is McPherson Ridge, where the battle began. At 8am on July 16th, 1863, as the Union Calvary confronted the Confederate Infantry advancing east along Chambers Pike.

 
A home on McPherson Ridge
 
A train runs thru the "Railroad Cut."
 
The view from where Lt. Gen. James Longstreet placed confererate troops along Warfield Ridge.
 
Cannons in the treeline at Pitzer Woods, where Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's troups attacked.
 
A group photo infront of the Virginia Memorial. It marks where the last Confederate assault occured.
 
Danny Bethmann getting a closer look at the Virginia Memorial despite the stern warning sign.
 
A look at Plum Run that retreating Union Soldiers passed through on their way to Cemetery Ridge.
 
This a close up of what the warning sign said at the Virginia Memorial. Danny Bethmann is now broke.

Close up of the Ice Bears team photo at the Virginia Memorial

Soldiers National Cemetery where President Lincoln gave his speach.

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was given here on Nov. 19th, 1863.

3:38pm - After a history lesson, some photo opportunities and Danny Bethmann breaking the park law, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner and the game against Davenport.

 
Looking across Susquehanna River from Interstate 81.
 
Our hotel in the lower right skyline of Downtown Harrisburg.

5:24pm - I arrive at the Twin Ponds Ice Arena to set up for the game against Davenport while the team has a pregame meal at Olive Garden.

11:57pm - It's not a good night at the Ice Bears lose 3-2 to the 2008 ACHA Division 2 National Champions. We load the bus to get some rest for Saturday's game with Siena.

Day Three, Saturday, October 18th, 2008

11:00am - We got to sleep in! The bus is just about to leave and take us to Red Robin for a pre game meal. I also head over to the store an get some throat lozenges. I find out that Clayton Baker may not play after suffering a blow to the knee in the Davenport game.

 
Our broadcast location from Pond #2 before the game with Siena.
 
A view from the other side of Pond #2 in Twin Ponds Ice Arena.

6:12pm - A tough loss to Siena 5-3 although the game was 4-3 until an empty net goal with 2.3 seconds left. We still need sleep, but first things first: A post game meal at Applebees. Then we head to the hotel to rest up for an 8:45am game with Vermont.

Day Four, Sunday, October 19th, 2008

5:30am - That's my wake up time. I don't want to get up, but I have to since there are three of us fighting for shower time.

6:30am - Most of the team is in the breakfast area. Other hotel guests wonder what just invaded their space as the breakfast area starts to fill up.

7:23am - We arrive at the Twin Ponds Ice Arena. I'm surprised we are the only team there. Two games are scheduled. One for 8:30am and ours against Vermont at 8:45am. On the drive over, I find out that Jonny Spellman (hip flexor), Paul Saitta (ribs) and Mike Poepping will not dress for the game.

11:37am - After a 6-2 loss to the Catamounts we load the bus for a 17 hour drive home to Springfield. I hope to get some sleep on the back leg of this trip, but also hope to catch some sights. Salman Shah puts in the DVD of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdon of the Crystal Skull" that I bought Saturday.

1:39pm - The DVD player is getting a workout as Jonny Spellman puts in "Forrest Gump." We're traveling through the Pennsylvania valley and its amazing fall colors. (Note: videos below may have long load times on slower connections.)

 
Video of the fall trees along I-81.
 
More trees as we head into a tunnel.

3:43pm - We stop for a quick snack at a rest area with several fast food places near Columbus, Ohio. The real question is if I sleep now, or wait until later. Sleep it is. Paul Moellenberg puts in a DVD. "Caddyshack" now blares in the speakers above my head, I figure I'm not going to get much sleep on the bus.

7:39pm (eastern, 6:39pm central) - Now in Indianapolis, it's time for a driver change and a time change. Walt leaves us and Tom returns for the trip home. Some of us make a Steak and Shake run, while others spot White Castle. "On Any Given Sunday" plays in the background for us to eat as we get back on the road again.

10:12pm (central) - Night surrounds the bus. Lights of late night travelers and occasional flashing red and blue lights flash along Interstate 70. I'm not sure if it's another poker game going on in the back of the bus or not. I'm too tired to find out. I turn my back on the DVD of Wayne Gretzky's life for sleep.

1:22am (central) - We arrive at Webster Groves Ice Arena in the St. Louis area. Coach Schroeder and Mike Brown get off the bus. I stay awake just long enough to take a sip of water and take another throat lozenge.

4:56am (central) - We arrive at Mediacom Ice Park in Springfield. It's like we never left, except everyone is tired and sore, and I have to work today.

"This is the last time we take such a long roadtrip," says John Odenwald. "Next time we're flying!"