By Kyle Nagel
Dayton Daily News
VANDALIA, Ohio — Jeff Heine has been responsible for organizing Dayton Bombers off-ice officials for a majority of the team’s existence. He also has worked as an official at hundreds of Bombers games during their 16-year stay in the Miami Valley.
On Monday, Heine boarded a plane on his way to watch a hockey game from the stands for the first time in years.
“I think these guys deserve the support,” Heine said. “This is the highest level, and that comes with some special experiences for them and for the fans.”
Heine was one of 25 Bombers fans who joined the team on a chartered jet that flew from the Wright Bros. Aero field to Boise, Idaho, in preparation for the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Finals against the Idaho Steelheads.
The Bombers advanced to the title series with a Game 7 victory against the Florida Everblades to win the American Conference championship on Friday.
Instead of making a 2,000-mile bus trip, the team chartered a jet — a relative rarity in minor-league sports.
The hectic pace of scheduling travel plans for the first two games of the Kelly Cup finals matched the frantic march the Bombers have made through the playoffs with series wins against Trenton (N.J.), Cincinnati and Florida.
“It’s been a frenzy,” said Bombers co-owner Costa Papista.
But the circus of travel arrangements ended Monday when the 25 non-team personnel boarded the plane at 3:20 p.m.
The players — in dress shirts, pressed pants and mostly shined shoes — gathered around Don MacAdam, their coach as well as the team’s general manager and co-owner, who reminded them about the opportunity they have in Boise.
He clapped his hands. “Any questions?” he asked. “No questions? OK, let’s go.”