Regina will be home away from home for the Prince Albert Raiders for the next three days. After busing to the provincial capital Thursday night, the Raiders will be based out of a Regina hotel for their Prairie road trip of three games in as many nights. They'll head to Brandon for tonight's game against the Wheat Kings, bus back to Regina afterward, and travel to Saskatoon on Saturday for a game that night against the Blades. The Raiders will wake up in Regina again Sunday morning and stay there for an evening date with the Pats.
Trying to make the best of a grinding schedule, the Raiders believe the singular base will be more practical and less tiring than shifting in and out of hotels each day. They did likewise during last month's U.S. road trip, using Seattle as their headquarters for multiple nights.
The Raiders picked up nine of a possible 10 points on a five-game homestand that ended Wednesday night with a 6-5 shootout loss to the Moose Jaw Warriors. It was Prince Albert's first defeat on home ice in seven games.
The Warriors pulled out the win, even though more than half of their players have been fighting the flu bug this week.
For the most part, the Raiders haven't been hit with the sickness that's sweeping teams in multiple sports.
"Not yet, but we've had lots of time between games, so we've had lots of time to recuperate," said Raiders coach and general manager Bruno Campese.
"But we are going to be hitting a stretch here in November where we're playing lots of road games, with travel and time on the bus. So, yeah, we're a little bit concerned that we've got to make sure that we watch our energy levels."
With eight of their next 10 games on the road, the Raiders (9-8-0-1) will try to remedy their out-of-town struggles. They're 1-6 on the road, while their record at the Art Hauser Centre is a tidy 8-2-0-1.
Tonight, the Raiders will play in Brandon for the first time this season. It's also their first game against the Wheat Kings since the Oct. 5 trade that brought goaltender Dalyn Flette to Prince Albert from Brandon. Flette has played just one game as a Raider, but he might see action this weekend, with three games in three nights. Garrett Zemlak, the CHL goaltender of the week, has carried the mail for Prince Albert.
When the Raiders face the Pats on Sunday night, it will be the fourth meeting of the season for the East Division rivals, but their first clash in Regina.
The Pats and Raiders are among the teams that have had seasonal flu shots in recent weeks as they try to minimize their susceptibility to sickness.
When a couple of Pats - Graham Hood and Myles Bell - suffered the flu last week, "they were told to just stay at home and not even come to the rink, just to make sure that none of the other guys get it," said teammate Jordan Weal.
Weal himself fought off a cold and sinus infection. He said the entire team has taken precautions against the spread of germs.
"You've just got to make sure you don't share water bottles. We've (each) started using our own water bottles. We've stopped using face towels, and we've gone to just having paper towel on the bench, so we don't get (the flu) that way, or spread it that way. And using that hand sanitizer stuff really works well, just to kill the bacteria and to keep safe."
If necessary, the Pats might receive H1N1 vaccinations before an extended U.S. road trip later this month, Weal said.