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Oklahoma City Barons: Busy schedule is tough physically and mentally on AHL teams

Plenty of sleep, proper nutrition are essential when teams play two, sometimes three, games in as many nights.
By Mike Baldwin Published: January 17, 2013

“It can be tough,” Green said. “The important thing is to get your nutrition after the game and make sure you get proper sleep. It is a bit of a grind. The players that handle it the best are the players that play well and move on (to the NHL).”

Defenseman Alex Plante has played a handful of NHL games the past three seasons but has spent most of his pro career in the AHL.

“You can't get sick. There's no time in between to get over things,” Plante said. “There's definitely an adjustment period the first time. We have a lot of bus trips and flights. You eventually get used to it. Most players have to go through this league (to get to the NHL).”

Mark Arcobello, the Barons leading scorer, said after playing four years at Yale, his biggest adjustment was the six-month season, even longer if your team makes the playoffs.

“It starts with your offseason workouts,” Arcobello said. “You have to be in shape. It's more mental than anything. But usually it's the same for both teams, so it's a pretty level playing field.”

Five times this season the Barons will play three games in three days. That never happens in the NHL.

“When you have your third game you can't play outside your game,” Plante said. “You have to keep it simple. If you get too fancy on the third game in three nights it can eat you alive.”

From a coaching perspective, ice time is monitored closely to assure players still have something left.

“That third game basically is all mental,” Nelson said. “You have to get your head in the right frame of mind and get your legs going. The third game in three nights, good hockey teams play smart.”