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Any time a current or future teammate starts to complain about the travel or accommodations in the minor leagues, Kenny Reiter will have a pretty good story to tell.
When the rookie goaltender was recalled to Bridgeport of the American Hockey League on Oct. 25, he arrived in Connecticut only a couple days before Hurricane Sandy blasted its way onto land. The Sound Tigers were coming home after playing three games in three nights on the road.
``On Sunday, you could tell the guys' heads were not really into it,'' Reiter said. ``There was a lot of other stuff to worry about.''
The Sound Tigers rode the bus home to see how bad things were. Because most of them rent, their landlords had already boarded up everything, so the players gathered their wives, children, girlfriends and pets and everyone drove to Worcester, Mass. That was the only place the team could find a hotel with power and enough rooms to host everyone for three days.
``It was nice for us to get away for those three days together, but you wish it was for a different reason,'' Reiter said. ``For me, I know it was a good chance to build some close relationships with some of the guys.''
There was plenty of wind and rain in Worcester, but the damage wasn't as dramatic as what was occurring back home.
``Everyone was on edge,'' he said. ``There were a lot of pictures being sent, and everyone had a lot of questions. They guys were pretty nervous and were just trying to make the best of it.''
The team members knew what was happening in Bridgeport, but the players couldn't tell the storm's total impact until they went home. The team's arena was protected by a seawall, but part of that had broken down. Two houses the players had been using were uninhabitable.
``Most of the guys live right on the water or a block or two inland,'' Reiter said. ``Our athletic trainer, he lost everything. For me, it wasn't too bad because I was just transplanted there for a little while, but I really felt for our athletic trainer and the people around the area who lost a lot of stuff. There are more important things in life.''
Because his call-up could end at any time, Reiter had been staying at a hotel about 30 minutes inside the coast, but he stayed with a couple teammates when the team returned to Bridgeport.
``We tried to stress that when you come to the rink it was about hockey, so try to forget about everything else,'' Reiter said. ``Just enjoy the game. That's kind of the way it is for all of us usually anyway so we could get into a routine.''
The players and organization helped raise money for the athletic trainer, and the Sound Tigers offered free tickets for the next two home games, attracting more than 15,000 fans.
``With so many fans being there and so many of them being affected by the storm, it was really an extra motivating factor for the team,'' Reiter said. ``It was just something to let everyone forget things for a while.''
The Sound Tigers won Nov. 3 but lost Nov. 4, and a few days later, Reiter returned to Fort Wayne. He continues to keep in touch with his former teammates.
``If people have an opportunity to make a donation out there that would be great,'' Reiter said. ``Some of those areas got pretty devastated and can use the help. It's going to be a long cleanup there.''