by Arch Ecker
In a move carefully calculated to give this years edition of the RoadRunners a competitive advantage early, team majority owner Don Stone decided to move the camp closer to the teams corporate headquarters in Atlanta .
“Bringing the team here to Atlanta for training camp gives us a unique opportunity”, said Stone. Head Coach and NAHL GM of the Year Scott Langer agreed, saying, “This setting eliminates outside influences, has minimal distractions and really allows us to focus on the task at hand, and that’s building a hockey team.” He went on, “Over the course of a long season, things aren’t always easy. Right off the bat, we will establish mental toughness and have our newer players buy in to the culture we’ve created in Topeka .” The benefits to holding camp in Atlanta are numerous. “This is where we come together as a team. Challenging times reveal leaders, and part of the process is finding out early who will still be standing at the end”, Langer said. “I’m truly excited to watch this unfold.”
29 players will report to Topeka on August 22, then depart on the 23rd for Georgia, returning to Topeka on September 1 to prepare for a busy weekend with two games against the NAHL expansion Amarillo Bulls followed by the franchise Second Annual Alumni Game on Sunday. The following weekend the ‘Runners face the Corpus Christi Ice Rays (formerly the North Division’s Alpena Ice Diggers) in a pair of tilts to be held at Pepsi Ice Midwest in Overland Park , KS . Four preseason games against NAHL talent give the coaches a solid look at their players in real game situations. “It’s only fair to evaluate our players against teams in our league. We haven’t always been able to arrange that in the past”, said Langer. “This years team will be battle tested earlier than in previous years."
After arriving in Georgia , the team will skate in a brand new state of the art facility in Cumming , GA , called “The ICE”. Stone is pleased at how the arrangements came together. “The facility is beautiful, and it’s run by an amazing group of people who are committed to helping us get off to a solid start.”
The RoadRunners season officially begins September 15 against the Alexandria Blizzard at the NAHL Showcase Tournament in Blaine , MN . The teams Home Opening Weekend is slated for October 1 and 2 against the Texas Tornado.