Life on road a study in perseverance

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:47 AM ET

OTTAWA -- There are many reasons why the world's great thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle never had to ride the bus for hockey.

London Knights rookie forward Matt Clarke, a Grade 12 student currently studying biology, physics and religion, is trying to cram in his school work during his team's eastern Ontario swing, which has included four games in five days in exotic locales Belleville, Peterborough, Ottawa and today in Kingston.

"I know I'm going to have to look at the books sometime this week because I have two tests the day I get back," the 17-year-old London native said. "You can't really study too much on the bus because there's a lot of bumps in the road and there's usually a movie playing. The guys aren't too bad about having to turn the lights on at night and plus, (as a rookie) you're near the front of the bus anyway. Everybody understands and I'm taking some demanding courses."

Like last season, some of London's veteran players aren't enrolled in post-secondary education but goalie Adam Dennis and defencemen Matt Pelech and Ryan Martinelli have eased their way into university at Western. Clarke considers himself a serious student and expects to begin pursuing a degree next year.

"I will have graduated high school so there's no reason to stay around there for another year," he said. "I'll try to take a few university courses and get that going."

Teammate Scott Aarssen says teachers are usually sympathetic and assign some homework for the players to take with them on the road.

"It's easy to fall behind and you have to make an effort to stay up with it," the rookie defenceman said. "But it's like what anybody else goes through when they're doing extra-curricular stuff away from school. It can get busy but you have to try to manage it as best as you can."

Clarke knows because London has another shot at a long post-season run, the playoffs are going to present another challenge.

"When you're playing every night like that, it's going to be hard not to fall weeks behind," he said. "But you have to say to yourself after the game that you have to go home right away and focus on school. You can't go out or it's not going to work."


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