Wednesday in San Jose. Friday in San Diego. Saturday in Ontario against San Diego.
That’s the game schedule. That’s the long haul. As the Reign travel by bus for their three games this week, they’re set to log close to 1,000 miles on California’s freeways in a four-day span.
“I don’t think we’ve done this,” head coach Mike Stothers said after Monday’s practice. “This is a first going from here to San Jose and then we’re going to go from San Jose straight to San Diego. I don’t know if we’ve done that before.”
The plan is for the Reign to skate early Tuesday then bus to San Jose, play Wednesday, stay in San Jose after the game and then drive from Northern California straight down to San Diego.
“Drive during the day on Thursday, that way we don’t mess up our hours,” Stothers said. “It’s always nice after a game to put a couple hours behind ya because nobody sleeps anyway, but then it’s almost like we should go right on through but then you’re getting in [to San Diego at] four in the morning, five in the morning and you don’t recover from that quick enough to play Friday, Saturday. So we’re hoping, and again this is something that we haven’t had to experience so we’re kind of experimenting with it and hoping that it’s the right decision.”
The long hours on the open road may leave a little time for some soul searching as well. Ontario lost its last game on Saturday 4-1 in Bakersfield, a performance Stothers wasn’t much pleased with and resulted in him making wholesale changes to the team’s forward lines on Monday. And this week’s opponents might just be tougher than the traffic. Both San Jose (7-3-0-0 in their last 10) and San Diego (7-2-0-1 in last 10) have already clinched playoff spots and are seeded at No. 1 and 2 in the Pacific Division respectively. The Reign, just a notch below at No. 3, are close to a playoff berth with their magic number at five with six games remaining. So, it’s an important week, especially when considering the Reign are 4-4-2-0 in their last 10, the worst amongst Pacific Division teams in playoff contention, and in need of a statement wins.
“It might be a bit of a grind but we can’t really think about that,” said forward Joel Lowry regarding the trip. “The next couple games are extremely important. We need to get ourselves solidified in a playoff spot and it looks like there’s a good chance we’ll be playing San Diego or San Jose in the first round so we really want to set the tone with how we play this weekend and on Wednesday for how we’ll play in the first round if we end up making it.”