Bore-road time in Dub

SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

Life on the road in the WHL isn't a glamorous one.

Countless hours are spent on the bus, where players attempt to eat, sleep and keep from going stir crazy.

Calgary Hitmen defenceman Alex Plante says he and his teammates sometimes get creative in an attempt to break up the boredom.

"There's always a movie on, but that gets old pretty quick," Plante says.

"We like doing ... pranks, if you will, on each other."

Like what?

"At the back of the bus, all the 19-year-olds were on the one side one day, and all the 20s were on the other," he said.

"We got into a bit of a fight, so we hung blankets up and built a fort so we wouldn't have to look at each other for a bit."

Kids, apparently, will be kids.

The Hitmen, who are owned by the NHL Flames, could probably afford to fly to most locations -- at least the ones that have an airport.

But there's an unwritten rule in the WHL that seriously frowns upon one team gaining a massive on-ice advantage based solely on finances.

So the plane is out.

The Hitmen, like every other team in the league, will get around four provinces and two states on the ol' iron lung.

"It can get tiring, especially the longer trips," Plante says.

"The longer you're on the road, you get mixed up as to what day it is and where you are.

"But having said that, it's a lot of fun, too. You get to travel around and see different places.

"You get sick of the bus. But when you first come back (after the summer), you enjoy going on those bus trips.

"For some of the longer trips, it would be nice to fly, but there's lots of good times on the bus.

Sleeping can be the major challenge.

Especially for someone of Plante's stature.

"I've learned to adapt," says the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder.

"I wake up pretty sore some days.

"It's amazing the position I find myself in sometimes when I wake up."

Goaltender Martin Jones said his routine depends on whether the Hitmen are travelling straight to a rink or a hotel.

"If it's not a game day, I'll hang out with the guys, maybe watch a couple of movies," Jones said.

"If it's the day of a game, I usually try to get a nap in."

In the old days, everyone played cards.

Now, players have all kinds of electronic gizmos to help them pass the time -- personal DVD players, video games, cellphones.

But Jones says he just prefers to exchange stories with his teammates.

"I just like to hang out and talk to the guys," he says.

"Some guys got their PSPs going, but we still play cards."

So, who's the card shark on the team?

"Maybe Alex Plante," says Jones, although his teammate just happened to walk past as he was answering.


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