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The Toronto Marlies are on a brutal road trip

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They have been temporarily kicked out of Ricoh so it can literally be turned into a lake.

Christian Bonin - TSGPhoto.com

By now you’re familiar with the fact the NHL has a ‘compressed’ 2016-17 schedule. Due to the delayed start of the season for the World Cup of Hockey, and the loss of schedule time for the new bye week, teams are playing more average games per week, and more back-to-back games than ever. The Maple have 18 back-to-back series this season.

For the Toronto Marlies that’s par for the course. They always have a lot of back-to-back games, and even three-in-three series in their schedules. That’s life in the AHL.

But on top of that, twice a season, Ricoh Coliseum turfs them out of the building for two weeks to host special events: the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in the fall, and, presently, The Toronto International Boat Show.

The Boat Show turns the center of Ricoh Coliseum into a lake. Literally.

The Marlies are using this time for a road trip. And it’s one hell of a road trip. Over the course of about 212 hours — a little under 9 days — the Marlies will play 6 games in 5 different cities.

Marlies Boat Show Schedule

Date Game time (EST) Opponent Location
Date Game time (EST) Opponent Location
1/20/2017 7:15 PM Wolf Pack Hartford CT
1/21/2017 7:00 PM Sound Tigers Bridgeport CT
1/22/2017 3:00 PM Thunderbirds Springfield MA
1/25/2017 7:00 PM Americans Rochester NY
1/27/2017 6:00 PM IceCaps St. John's NL
1/28/2017 12:30 PM IceCaps St. John's NL

The Marlies are tied for last in the AHL North Division with 35 points. Winning games on this brutal road trip are crucial to move up in the standings. Remember, there is no Wild Card playoff slot in the AHL this season. Playoff slots are allocated only to the top four teams in each division. Occupying fourth in the North Division are the Utica Comets with 40 points.

The first three games are against teams from outside the Marlies’ division. Adding to the difficulty, it is the first and only meeting this season against two of those teams; the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Islanders), and the Springfield Thunderbirds (Panthers). Preparation will be key against these unfamiliar opponents.

The last two games are in Newfoundland against division rivals the IceCaps, affiliates of the Canadiens. The Marlies know the IceCaps well, but look at those game times. They play 6:00PM (EST) on Saturday, then turn around for a 12:30PM game the next day! All that after the slog of traveling all the way to Newfoundland.

Speaking of travel, if you were to calculate the total round-trip distance traveled for this road trip, you get an astonishing number.

Marlies Boat Show Travel Distance

From To Distance (km)
From To Distance (km)
Toronto ON Hartford CT 789
Hartford CT Bridgeport CT 90
Bridgeport CT Springfield MA 130
Springfield MA Rochester NY 497
Rochester NY Toronto ON 266
Toronto ON St John's NL 2126
St John's NL Toronto ON 2126
TOTAL 6024

(all distances from Google Maps)

Just over 6,000km. And that is a conservative estimate.

I make the assumption the team will take a bus from the start of the trip all the way up to the Rochester game, then return to Toronto and fly direct to Newfoundland. I don’t know for certain that’s the plan. They may head back to Toronto for a day before playing Rochester, or the flight may stop over somewhere like Halifax, or some other variation. The point is that’s a lot of distance to travel.

This is about the same as the distance from Toronto to Paris, France. It’s more than half the circumference of the Moon. If you were to lay down hockey sticks, end-to-end, to cover the same distance, you would need about 3.5 to 4 million of them!

The good news is the Marlies are off to a great start, defeating the Wolf Pack Friday night.

Let’s hope for some more wins so that the Marlies return home to their arena refreshed with the taste of victory.