Although playing at home may be comfortable, the women’s hockey team welcomes road trips where the young squad gets a chance to bond together.
The Nittany Lions traveled to Missouri on Nov. 15 and are currently in the midst of their longest road trip of the season, which is six games long. The Lions will not play at home in Greenberg Ice Pavilion until Jan. 4 against Chatham.
Head coach Josh Brandwene said some of the disadvantages to playing on the road include travel time and missed class, but an advantage is the experience of spending time together on the road.
Brandwene also said that, at this point, traveling is nothing new for the Lions and that they are they are used to it.
“We started the program on the road,” Brandwene said referring to the program-opening games at Vermont. “I think that’s something they’re comfortable with and they’ve been comfortable with it from day one with such a long road trip to get us started. I think this is familiar territory for us.”
Brandwene said the team is used to departure and pre-game skating routines on the road and it is something the team has embraced.
Assistant coach Gina Kearns said there is an element of togetherness when the team is at home, but the players may be off doing different things such as attending class or visiting with parents in town.
“When we’re traveling, whether it’s a bus or in a plane, we’re confined,” Kearns said. “The 27 players, the three coaches and the rest of the staff all together. [There’s] not really many places to go, not really many places to hide, so you’re kind of forced to do that little bit of bonding.”
Kearns said it is easier for the team to interact on a personal level if it has an hour or two of downtime at the airport.
Forward Jenna Welch said the Lions walked around the airport, listened to music and played games to pass the time during the last road trip to Lindenwood.
Kearns said on the way back from Missouri, goalie Nicole Paniccia and forward Tess Weaver got their nails done together as one form of bonding.
“Sitting next to different people, just intimate things like finding out a story about someone that you hadn’t heard before,” Kearns said. “Just little things that you won’t even think of that just happen and it turns out to be funny in the end.”
Welch said it is nice to get to know one another in the hotel and that sometimes the players are put with other players they are not used to rooming with, which helps to get to know each other on a different level.
Welch also said it helps the team chemistry to get to know the players outside of just hockey and the team getting to know each other more and more as the season progresses.
“You can see that also as the season’s gone on,” Welch said. “I mean, we’ve had more road trips, got to know each other more and it shows on and off the ice.”
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