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11/14/2008 4:34 PM

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Winger has logged more miles in last two weeks than IceHogs will in first 16 weeks of 2008-09

Rockford, Ill.- No Rockford IceHogs skater can probably tell you more about life in the minors right now than rookie forward Mike Radja.

The Yorkville, Illinois native is back in Rockford after a seemingly endless 11,092-mile journey in the last two weeks that has taken him to eight different cities in seven states.

“I expected to be up and down,” the University of New Hampshire graduate said. “But I didn’t expect it to be like this.” 

Radja On The Road:
  • START OCT. 30: Fresno, California to Anchorage, Alaska (2,137 miles)
  • Anchorage to Phoenix, Ariz. (2,547 miles)
  • Phoenix to Rockford (1,526 miles, including drive to O’Hare Airport)
  • Rockford to Peoria and back (288 miles)
  • Rockford to Norfolk, Va. and back (1,546 miles)
  • Rockford to Boise, Idaho (1,524 miles)
  • END NOV. 14: Boise back to Rockford (1, 524 miles)

Radja joined the Fresno Falcons to start the 2008-09 ECHL season after a typical trip through the Chicago Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs training camps.  The team’s first road trip outside of California took them to Anchorage, Alaska to play the Alaska Aces for a three-game weekend set on Oct. 31.  But the Falcons didn’t return to their home arena until this week, flying from Alaska to Arizona to play the Phoenix RoadRunners and then Boise, Idaho to play the Idaho Steelheads.

After landing in Phoenix, Radja learned he was getting back on the plane to join the IceHogs for their three-game road trip starting in Peoria and ending with two games against the Norfolk Admirals in Virginia.  When the team returned to Rockford, he joined the Falcons in Idaho for two games, only to learn he was coming back to Rockford.

Add it all up and it’s equivalent to a round trip between Fresno and Seoul, South Korea or Paris, France. That’s seven flights, five trips between Rockford and Chicago’s O’Hare Airport and at least one night in five different time zones – all in a little over two weeks.

“It really hasn’t been that bad,” he said. “You get to catch naps and there’s a lot of time to adjust.”

And all through his own personal tour of the United States, the winger has played well – notching seven goals and 12 points in just eight games with the Falcons as he tries to show he can play at the American Hockey League level. He also has skated in one game with the IceHogs in 2008-09.

Through all of the buses, planes and shuttles, the thing he hates the most is waiting in line to go through the X-ray machines.

“They give you your travel plans that day,” he said. “So sometimes you’re going through the security lines a lot.”

And as the clean clothes were running low, he did get a little help from his family.  On Nov. 5, Radja’s brother and mother came to the game between the Rockford IceHogs and Peoria Rivermen in Peoria.  He only had a little bit of time after the game to see his family, but it was enough to grab a duffle bag of clothes from his brother and get back on the Rockford team bus.

“I live out of a suitcase right now,” he said. “And I ran out of underwear a couple of days ago.”

But now after three weeks in hotels, he’s ready for a home cooked meal and a night in his own bed, both of which he’ll get when he visits family in Yorkville this weekend.

And he can at least say he knows where he’s going to be for a while.  The longest road trip for Fresno in the next six weeks is a six-hour ride to Las Vegas.  Rockford doesn’t play anyone more than six hours away until the Jan. 29 trip to Winnipeg, Manitoba.