But at least that was a home game. The Aeros aren't going to have any home games for awhile. Their next 11 games are on the road -- four of the games are in Abbotsford. True, the Aeros have been an excellent road team this year while playing poorly at home, but still, 11 straight road games are going to be taxing for any team, even if the team plays good hockey on the road like the Aeros. (The Aeros are 23-12-3-9, 58 points on the season, but only 9-7-3-6 at home with a 14-5-0-3 road record)
We asked John Torchetti and Jon DiSalvatore about the challenges that await the team, and how the team will adjust to that many on the road. And they didn't sound too worried, not that they would tell us they worried.
"We just want to come out – we want to keep our success going." Torchetti said. "We’ve got some big challenges. We play some good teams, so we’ve got to be ready that. I just think it’s a good challenge for us as a team. It gets us some time to go bond, which is big."
DiSalvatore claims the road games are easier to handle because the player time is more regimented and there are fewer distractions, which could be partly behind their better road play.
"There’s more distractions when you’re at home than when you’re on the road," he said. "Your schedule for the most part is set with you. So guys are tuned pretty well when you’re on the road. You have an itinerary that you follow so it’s easy to kind of reign guys in; keep a little bit more of a cohesive unit when you’re on the road. You go to dinner a lot. You associate a lot. You go to movies on the off days. You’re really together way more than we ever are when we’re at home."
(As an aside, I covered a religious event featuring baseball player Josh Hamilton on Friday night. Hamilton's a drug and alcohol addict who makes a habit off falling off the wagon during the off-season. A time when he's got no schedule to follow, so he turns to his demons then. So maybe DiSalvatore has a point about the set schedules and being able to reign people in.)
"You’ve got to be careful when you start to look ahead too much," he said. "We’re still a team that’s trying to work on a bunch of things. I know its a little cliché, but you really do have to take it one day at a time. We’re trying to build a foundation here; a lot like any winning team that wants to make a successful playoff run is trying to do. We’ve got to take every opportunity, a chance to go on and get a great road win, character wins. We showed this weekend some more character, and we’ve got to continue to show signs like that. Really, just take it section-by-section, minute-by-minute type deal, and work with some guys who are still maturing to being first year pros, playing a lot of minutes for us."
As it stands now, the Aeros are the fourth seed in the Western Conference for playoffs. I don't believe the road trip is going to destroy any playoff chances, especially not if they keep playing good hockey on the road. But my fear is that the team returns to Houston tired and beat up and still struggling at home.
Hopefully this road trip will position them for a successful playoff run. The team that bonded during a month-long road trip and is now ready to lay waste to all that come before them.
Oh well, until next month.