CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Turns out you can get from Fargo, N.D., to Muskegon, Mich. There may have been some bets against that.
And in time to play a hockey game, no less.
Justin Wade joined his new team, the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, in time to play last Saturday night against the Muskegon Lumberjacks. The defenseman was acquired in a trade from the Fargo Force that became official this past Friday morning.
Let him tell you how he made it to Michigan. It’s exhausting just listening to it.
“I drove 10 hours from Fargo to Chicago, where I live,” said Wade, from Aurora, Ill. “Got in about 2 a.m., got some sleep and woke up about 10. Got something to eat, left around noon, got into Muskegon about 3 or 4 o’clock. Made it to the rink and played the game.”
After the game, he drove back home to Aurora, got a little more sleep, woke up Sunday morning and drove four hours west to Cedar Rapids. He was asked if he’s still recovering from all the road work.
“No, I’m kind of used to it,” he said with a smile. “Playing in Fargo, we had really long road trips. I mean, I’m not used to driving all that by myself … But I am used to the long travel. Everything is a long way from Fargo.”
The RoughRiders and Force turned some heads in the junior hockey world with a “good-old hockey deal” of highly touted rearguards. Gavin Bayreuther was sent to Fargo.
The two skaters are about polar opposite in their styles. Bayreuther is loaded with offensive skill, while Wade is the prototypical stay-at-home physical type.
At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, he’ll definitely help a RoughRiders team that has struggled keeping pucks out of its net. The Notre Dame signee was caught off guard by moving on after spending the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons in North Dakota.
“My reaction to being traded? Just surprised,” said the 18-year-old. “Being in Fargo for basically two and a half years, I thought I’d end my USHL career there. But stuff happens.”
Don’t expect a lot of points out of Wade. He had a goal and an assist in 17 games this season for Fargo and has three goals and seven assists in 110 career USHL games.
But that’s not his game.
“I’m pretty much going to be a hard-nosed, shutdown defenseman,” he said. “That’s what I did in Fargo, and that’s what I plan on doing here.”
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