Today is the beginning of another three games in three days. The 'three in three' is something unique to minor pro hockey. The National Hockey League's schedule is spaced out more, so that the teams aren't playing on consecutive nights very often.
But because of the travel and choice nights for attendance the minor leagues try to fit as many games in on the weekend as possible.
No one on the team ever really looks forward to a 'three in three', they are tough to keep energy levels up, and there isn't much time for recovery between games.
Everyone has their own way to prepare for a full weekend of hockey, but most the guys are fairly similar in diet and rest patterns.
Yesterday, the team had a lunch together after practice to start the weekend by eating a good meal. Pasta, pasta, and more pasta. During the season, it seems all I ever eat is Pasta, tomato sauce, and grilled chicken. It is definitely the preferred pregame meal for all the guys on the team, having a lot of carbohydrates and protein, that help in
recovering of muscles and storing energy.
So we had a huge meal with lots of pasta, steak, chicken, meatballs.
Throughout the weekend, we'll probably have the same meal, with little variation, for lunch and dinner until after the last game on Sunday.
Some guys are very particular about what they eat for pregame. If we have a home game, I always will cook penne, and mix it with a vodka sauce, always the same.
When we are on the road, everyone on the team knows Kevin Doell has two big pieces of chicken before he eats his pasta, some of the guys don't like sauce on the pasta, and some guys like Jason Krog like to mix in Tabasco sauce. Every guy has a little quirk. It seems a little silly to be so particular about what you eat, but when you find the right combination that helps you to play your best, it is very hard to deviate from it.
Rest and sleep is another big part of preparing for the games. I try to get full 8 hours every night, especially before a game. And I always take a nap on game day. After our pregame skate in the morning, I usually come home and eat my pregame meal of pasta and go to take a nap no later than 1 o'clock. I will usually get 2 and a half to three hours worth of sleep before I get up to go to the rink at 4:30.
I think sleep makes a huge difference for me during the busy weekends. Sometimes when we travel or after a hard game I can't get to sleep right away because I'm still 'up' from the game. I might not fall asleep till 2 or three, in which case I will be exhausted the next morning. So when you have to turn around and get ready for a game the next night, it is important to get some sleep so your body has the most amount of rest it can get to perform at its top level.
Again, everyone is a little different, my road roommate Brian Sipotz only likes to sleep for a little over and hour, and my defensive partner Boris Valabik
sometimes doesn't sleep at all before games.
No matter what guys do and what they eat, they are always preparing for the games ahead of time, planning out what they are going to eat, and when they are going to get their rest in.
The 'three in three' is a tough weekend of hockey and without preparing the day before it is tough to be able to play your best in the last game. Hopefully with our team lunch, and only having to travel on Sunday to Peoria, we will be well rested, and get 3 wins on the weekend.