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How Hockey Teams Should (Try) To Eat on the Road

01/15/2016, 5:00am PST
By Kelvin Cech

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to write more about specific things that happen. Unique stories from which people can borrow ideas, tips and hilarious dad-jokes. 

A lot of people ask me questions about the routine the Giants employ during road trips. People see the bus pulling up to the club and their jaws drop when we tell them we’re heading to Prince George for the weekend and driving right back. 

They’re tough trips, but it’s just one more aspect of preparing for life in junior hockey, where the bus becomes a second home. 

With all the hours spent on the bus, in hotels and at the rink, one of the most crucial parts of road trips for any athlete is nutrition. A proper pre-game meal can mean the difference between having your A-game and spending the intermission crouched over the sink because of a bad enchilada. 

Restaurants

Travelling for tournaments means you’ll spend lots of time eating at restaurants. This is one of the funnest memories a young player will have and one of the most traumatic experiences a parent will have. Kids go bananas when they’re out in public with their friends for some reason. 

With the Giants, we wear our suits and make sure to push in our chairs and thank the staff for helping us, because can you imagine working as a server and watching 25 large teenagers strolling into your place of business? Terrifying. 

The Menu

It usually takes half a season for our coaching staff to be comfortable allowing the kids to order on their own. And even then we’re still faced with situations like the aforementioned enchilada-emergency. This is why I’m always partial to the pre-order.

  • Green salads
  • Chicken & pasta
  • Sandwiches on whole grain bread
  • water only (no juice or pop)

These are our go-to pre-game orders. Plenty of carbohydrates mixed with protein and healthy nutrients; everything a hockey player needs to be at his or her best. 

Timing Meals Properly

When you’re on the road, the hockey gods like to interrupt your carefully-planned routine with what I like to call lightning bolts. You never know when they’re going to happen, you just know they will happen. Common lightning bolts at a restaurant include:

  • the staff forgetting about your reservation
  • meals taking up to 45 minutes to arrive on the table
  • a server giving everyone fries instead of salad
  • the enchilada emergency

These lightning bolts are the reason we plan to be sitting down to eat pregame meals exactly four hours prior to game time. This gives the team enough time to digest and absorb the energy from their meal, and it also covers us for issues related to timing. 

Post Game

When you’re on the road for a tournament, you’re often playing multiple games back to back. In this case your post-game meal is also the next day’s pre-game meal. The trick to maintaining energy throughout a tournament is eating well and replenishing energy as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Sure, for young kids it’s fun to drink pop when you’re out of town. That’s fine, as long as you’re eating from all four food groups as well. 

And once the weekend or tournament ends? Well, nothing motivates better than the promise of milkshakes on the long bus ride home following a win. 

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