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Hunter Bishop, a sophomore forward on the men’s hockey, wrote from the road as the Buckeyes traveled to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to take on Northern Michigan in Marquette, Mich.

Day 4- OSU 2 NMU 0
Today I slept in all the way to 9:15! Great start to the day, I knew it was going to be a good one. I threw on my track suit as fast as possible, made sure the do was at least breakfast presentable, and darted down to our fabulous buffet. Once again I headed straight for the oatmeal and toast. I’m not so sure this odd colored food in front of me was oatmeal, but I ate it anyway and it was good.  After breakfast we zoned out in our rooms for about 30 and headed down to the bus.

We got to the rink assuming we were going for our pre-game skate. Apparently assuming makes a something out of u and me, because we were all wrong. We did about a half hour of video (it wasn’t pretty) and followed it up with a team run and stretch. We got to see a lot of footage from the night before. Video doesn’t lie so there was no hiding from the scenes we were watching. The good news is after seeing just how many simple mistakes we made, we realized how easily they would be to correct and the night before was only 3-1. If we buckle down here tonight and make better choices we should be happier with the outcome. After our little jog around the “basketball court” (the rink had transformed into a basketball court for the NMU women’s team) we went back into the locker room for a mandatory shower…they must think we stink. We quickly headed back to the hotel for our greatly appreciated pregame meal. I was so hungry! Today they spoiled us with pasta, chicken, and salad! There is no sarcasm in the way I say that… I seriously love that pregame meal. I have been eating that exact meal before games since I was about 15. Sadly there were no cookie stealers today; or at least none got caught.

After the meal, we all headed to our rooms and did lots of things. I’m sure everyone on our team does something different to get ready. The pregame rituals of hockey players are very sacred and very special. Some do a lot, and some do nothing at all, but every guy has something. Something, regardless if it is really physically or mentally energizing, will give them the edge that night to play to the best of their abilities. Before heading down to the 5:30 bus Boots and I quickly scanned the room to make sure no belongings were left behind. Once on the coach we headed for the rink. After an hour and a half of meetings, dynamic warm ups, stretching, stick handling, icing, flexall-ing, and taping sticks we were out for warmies and waiting for the 7 minute mark to head out for the start of the game.

The first few shifts went as planned as we set a new physical tone.  We got pucks deep, we chipped, we talked, and we took it to them! We stuck to the game plan we drew up, and were disciplined from start to finish. That along with a very solid goaltending effort by our stud between the posts Dusty allowed us to take two points out of Northern Michigan. Thank goodness we prevailed because I don’t think a could have withstood an 11 hour bus ride home after getting swept…no way! After the game we sang a beautiful song, and quickly loaded up for the voyage home. I’d like to say I’m going to miss this place, but that just wouldn’t be true.
                                                                                                                                        

Day 3 – 60 Minutes
8:45 am my phone alarm goes off and wakes me up from the much needed 9 and a half hour sleep. Boots isn’t getting up until 9:15 so let’s just say battle won for Hunter 11/21/08. I like to be up before 9 on game days and get my day going. The morning seemed nice, with slowly falling flakes and the sun hitting holes throughout the sky. I decided to put about three layers on, and take a walk around the downtown area we are located in. Breakfast wasn’t until 9:30, so I had some time to kill. I walked about 10 minutes each way from our hotel, and saw some really cool shops. Unfortunately nothing opens around here until 10! One store even had their open sign on, but even they weren’t open yet! Anyway I had my Ipod in and it was a nice little stroll. I got back, and headed straight for the breakfast buffet. The spread was as good as expected with all the bells and whistles. 

After finishing breakfast we had about 30 minutes in our rooms before we took another bus ride to Berry ice arena for our pre-game skate. The ice was fresh, and we finished in about 45 quick minutes. Only about 35 of those minutes were under the supervision of coaches, and the last 10 we had to ourselves to do as we wished. It’s nice that they give you time at the end because it gives guys a chance to work on or do whatever it takes to prepare yourself  for the night. After busing back to the hotel, we headed straight up to the conference room for our pregame meal. To no surprise we were fed noodles with chicken and salad. Pasta and chicken is like the all time staple pregame hockey meal. I suppose it’s the perfect balance of carbs and protein. The sauce they supplied however was a mushroom gravy sauce. I’m deathly allergic to mushrooms (I really just don’t like them) so I took a rain check on the sauce! After stuffing myself I headed back to my room, and hung out until about 2 pm. We ate pregame meal at 12:30 and I knew I would be hungry again before 7:30 so I went on a hunt for a smoothie. Smoothies have been a part of my pre-game meal for about 2-3 years now. I ask for special ingredients every time which I will not reveal to you. I ended up in the lobby chatting with the nice young girl at the front desk asking for a place to get a smoothie. There is a restaurant here at the hotel, but it didn’t open until 5. There was however one of the chefs who was hanging around early, so my new friend and I asked if he could blend something up for me. He said that only fruit he had was oranges and that he didn’t have yogurt, but he could supplement it with sour cream…I respectfully declined his offer! How gross does that sound? Anyway, I headed to the nearest gas station to see what I could find and ended up with a case of water and a strawberry banana V8 drink. It wasn’t a smoothie, but it was my last resort.

After my smoothie, I laid down for my nap, showered up, and dressed myself up for the big dance. Puck drop was at 7:35 so we departed the Ramada about 5:30. Upon arrival we stopped short of the rink, and coach had us walk the rest of the way to the arena. I guess I should have worn my winter coat! It was not very warm out. Once in the rink we headed straight to the room, undressed, redressed in work out attire, and prepared for war. We knew coming into the game Northern Michigan was a better team than what their record showed, and they would come out of the gates firing on all cylinders. Before I knew it we were warming up. In our first few strides onto the ice Boots must have caught a bad edge or something because he took a huge digger at about center ice. I think we all got a good chuckle out of that one. It’s always so funny when someone falls in warm-ups! It’s happened to me before.

After warmies, we returned to the away dressing room where we awaited the coaches for the pre-game talk. Coach Lammers talked a bit of X’s and O’s and then we talked about what we were going to bring as a team against NMU. After an elementary choir sang for the building the first period was under way. We didn’t get the start we had talked about, and along with penalty trouble the momentum was in the hands of the Wildcats most of that first 20 minutes. Now I can’t really talk about the whole game because I’m going to be here all night, but overall we could have done a lot of things better, and made mistakes that can easily be fixed with better decision making. Our lack of discipline made it feel like we were chasing all night, and we need to respond tomorrow with a much better focus. If I know this team the way I think I do, you’re going to see a much more determined group sticking to the plan playing Buckeye hockey in Game #2. Game #1 NMU 3 OSU 1.

After the game I ate and drank as many bagels, Powerade bars, and chocolate milk as I could possible devour. We did a cool down as a team, and then loaded back onto the bus. At the hotel we quickly ate, and headed back to our rooms. Falling asleep is always tough after a game, as your body and mind are still in gear. Before passing out I filled my bath tub with cold water and ice, and did a quick 10 minute soak to flush my legs out…it was so cold! To finish my night I laid in bed going over every pass, shot, and stride of our game. We know what we need to do tomorrow, and it’s time respond and get it done.

Day 2: The blizzard continues…
Falling asleep was not a problem last night. I slept like a baby. I had set my phone alarm to 9:15 this morning, but my incredibly amazing roommate (Boots) thought we were eating at 9:15 so he got up earlier, showered, and proceeded to make a lot of noise around 9. Now I don’t want to sound like a big baby because I know that 9 sounds really late for a lot of people…I just wanted that extra 15 minutes! Anyway I refused to get out of bed until 9:15; I was really comfortable. After quickly throwing what I had taken out the night before back into my bag, I did one quick last scan of the room and headed downstairs to the breakfast. There was a spread of what seemed to be a buffet lined up in the restaurant near the lobby. There were eggs, sausage, breakfast potatoes, toast, and pancakes. Right before I started with my first plate I was informed that we could only go up once, and to go up twice you had to pay $2. I proceeded to load my plate to capacity, and then headed back to my table. I ate so much food! It was amazing.

After, we headed back to the lobby, put our bags on the bus, and got comfortable for the second half of our voyage to Northern. The snowing hasn’t stopped since we have been here, and didn’t seem to be easing as we neared NMU. We arrived sometime around two o’clock, and made a quick stop at the rink in which we will be playing to drop off our gear. Next stop was the Ramada inn, where we would be resting for the remainder of the weekend. Rooming assignments were no surprise as I am stuck with Ian once again. Good stuff.  As fast as we got in our rooms, we rushed out even quicker to run to our lunch held at the hotel. They had sandwiches, pasta salad, and unbelievable chicken noodle soup. I think the hit item however were the freshly baked cookies as Coach Lammers caught Belanger with a few hiding in his pockets!

Post lunch we headed back to the rink, and had a short crisp Thursday practice. On the way there we had to go up this really big hill, and we almost didn’t make it! The bus’s tires began to spin, so coach had everyone move to the back of the bus to give the back wheels more traction. It didn’t seem to do the trick so Coach Markell jumped out and went behind the bus. I’m not sure what he did back there. Maybe he was pushing, but it helped and we successfully made it to the top, and to practice.  Thursdays are always short and hard to make sure we are focused for the weekend, but short enough the coaches know we have enough left in the tank  to bring everything we have the following nights. It was a great practice. The team really seems dialed in. Their ice is huge here at Northern. I believe we have a really fast skating team, so I think it will work to our advantage! After practice, we jumped back on to the bus, and rushed back to make our dinner date back at the hotel. Steak and potatoes once again! I’ll never get sick of that meal! As usual ice cream was served post meal. Unfortunately I had to decline this generous offer of frozen heaven. I don’t eat ice cream on Thursdays and it kills me every time they bring it out. This ice cream looked so good too! Why no ice cream? Let’s just say I’m sort of superstitious. After dinner we have the rest of the night to ourselves. I’m going to do some math homework while I watch the Detroit- Edmonton hockey game. Wings up 3-0! Talk to you tomorrow…

Day 1- I love the bus
Today is Wednesday and everything is normal before 3:30. I had two classes, rushed home while slamming a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, grabbed my bags for the trip and headed to the rink. My mind races before every trip because I always feel like I’m forgetting something. I usually am! This journey to Northern Michigan is a long one, so forgetting any key items could be a catastrophe. I am missing two things on this particular day: my pillow and blanket. I left it in the Reeds’ car after our last road trip so I have contacted Kyle to be a pal and bring it for me. This trip is way too long to go without a pillow, so I’m praying he comes through.

Before I know it we are practicing. Wednesdays are always interesting as the line up and list for players traveling has not yet been released, so everyone is making sure they secure their spot. After practice we rode our short bus back to the Schott, quickly undressed, and headed to the workout room with the biggest beauty in weight lifting history – Coach Glass! Man does that guy crack me up. Coach was in a hurry to get on the road, so we shortened our lift to twenty minutes  and hammered it out. After lift Kyle explains to me that he not only forgot his blanket and pillow, but he forgot mine too! Wow! That’s all I have to say. Post lift I had my usual ice bath (which was brutal) and hurried up to shower to make it on the bus by 3:30. As usual I was one of the last ones to get on, and what do you know all the seats are taken! I usually sit between Sevy (Severyn) and Shaef (Schafer) near the back, but we have a few more staff members coming on this trip and all seats are full. I immediately started searching to see if any rookies had not doubled up yet, and there was no such luck. Johnny Albert, being the genuine guy that he is, offered to share his seat, and I gladly accepted. To sum things up I will be sharing a seat for the next 11 or so hours! On the bright side, Kyle was joking and my blanket and pillow were waiting for me on the bus!

The bus ride starts out nicely as I had my computer fully charged, and a whole season of Entourage at my side. I made it through 2 whole disks before my battery died! That show is awesome. It’s like Sex and the City for guys! I didn’t panic with the last ticks of my battery as we had been playing movies on the bus the entire ride. Unfortunately however Coach Bittner had been choosing the last two, and let’s just say his movie judgment is slightly off. The current movie was awful! Finally we made it to Outback Steak house for our team dinner. Upon arrival our waitress asked us all our last names, as we had all pre-ordered from the bus. I sat next to Kyle and Chris Reed. Same last name, very different people! Although they do look quite similar! Anyway, the young girl serving us thought they were kidding when they both answered “Reed”.  I had steak, a baked potato, a house salad with Italian, and finished the night off with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. The vanilla ice cream came without chocolate syrup, which had become a norm on our last Outback visits. As guys were about to revolt, for some reason Coach Markell had brought his own Hershey’s chocolate and he was nice enough to share. I guess he really likes  chocolate sauce. Post meal we headed back to the bus, where we shuffled though a couple more movies before landing on the movie 21. We pretended to live the Vegas life of poker until we arrived in who knows where Michigan where we checked in at the Quality Inn Hotel. Coach Lammers called out roommates as we stood in the lobby like zombies. “Bishop and Boots” he shouted. My initial thought to this rooming assignment is not something I can write on this blog, but let’s just say I have roomed with this specimen before! I’ll talk more about my rooming situation later on in the weekend.
We headed up to our rooms, and ate the pizza that the team ordered for us. After five or six slices, a Propel in my belly, and my iPod set on the playlist relax I was down for the count and out like a light.

Notes:
-It has been snowing in Michigan, and a few team snowball fights are most likely to be in order.
-It seemed like our bus swerved at one point last night, and I was scared for my life.
-I can’t wait to play in Northern Mich!
-Quick shout out to my boys at Morrill Tower Fish, and Schneider!