Hello again, fans. Justin Taylor back for another blog.
The K-Wings and I are just coming off of a four-game stretch in five days. The most common question I am asked is how I’m able to prepare and get up for those short, intense weeks. The best way to approach it in my opinion is to look at one game at a time. You’re only physically capable of playing one game at a time, so it’s important to react the same way mentally. It’s a message that our coaching staff stresses during these five-day spurts of action. It isn’t as easy as it sounds though, I’ve personally been through a lot of these stretches and it is difficult to be 100% every game. With some games going beyond regulation and travel to and from cities near and far, it is important to be eating the right foods, hydrating your body, and of course, maybe catching an extra hour of shut-eye to stay sharp. As grueling as it is on our bodies, you do get used to the schedule and you learn to put forth your best efforts during a game-filled week.
As usual, we had a hard fought battle with the Fort Wayne Komets on Saturday at home, dropping a 4-3 nail-biter. These are games where you don’t need much to get up and be psyched. We have clashed eight times this season and every game has been a war. Lots of checking and intensity. It isn’t hard to see that the Wings and Komets do not get along inside a hockey rink. For decades before both joined the ECHL, and into the present, Kalamazoo and Fort Wayne have been duking it out for some of the most exciting hockey game a fan can see. I look forward to every match-up!
It appears that a new rivalry is heating up with the addition of the Brampton Beast to our conference. Our game on Sunday was hard-fought and very emotional. Seeing a familiar face behind the bench may be the stem of some heated games and battles between the Beast and K-Wings. A former coach of mine and current head coach of the Brampton Beast, Colin Chaulk, or, “Chaulker” as I know him, has put together a hard working Beast team especially against the K-Wings. I don’t get to speak much to him during the game. I try to focus on the players on the ice. As fun as it would be to try to get Chaulker wound up and driven crazy, I’ll keep my comments to the players on the ice!
The K-Wings and I enter a much anticipated rematch with the Colorado Eagles this weekend. We took two of the three games last year in their building. I’m sure they are going to give us their best in our barn. Among them are two former teammates, the “skill and thrill” as I call them. The Eagles have a tremendous talent in Trent Daavettila and I’m sure he will be eager to show his flare against his former team. But I think the most exciting part is seeing, in my opinion, one of the best antagonists left in the game. Not to pump up his tires, but Darryl Bootland has made a name and career for getting under people’s skin. He is pretty infectious and the fans here are still in a love-to-hate relationship with him. He will be getting extra close attention while he is here from the players and the fans. I look forward to playing both of them! They were both a treat to play with and most certainly a treat to play against. I will be playing both of them extra hard! Safe travels to the Eagles’ players and staff to Michigan!
After this weekend, the K-Wings and I set sail for Orlando. These trips are always fun, but I make a point to tell the guys in the room that it isn’t a vacation, and that we still have a job to do. This trip will cap off our game-filled month of February and we want all 3 games in our favor. The playoffs are quickly approaching and we need to continue our climb into playoff contention. The Solar Bears are not an easy team to play at the Amway Center. They always give us their best and I don’t imagine we will see anything less. I do imagine my team and I will take some time and have a nice team dinner and enjoy the warm weather as a little head start to its return up north with the coming spring!
That’s it for me, fans. Thank you again for taking the time to read and I hope you’re enjoying these.
Until next time,
Justin Taylor #93