When Saskatchewan Shockers coach Myron Beasley fell ill in Anchorage on Saturday night, he feared that he might be out of commission for a while. The good news is that he was fine medically. The bad news is that his extended stay in Alaska wound up forcing him to make a mad scramble halfway across the country in order to make it to Kansas City for the next night’s game.
“Ever see Planes, Trains, and Automobiles?” said Beasley, referring to the 1987 comedy starring Steve Martin and John Candy. “It was basically like that.”
After the Shockers upset the Anchorage Igloos 6-3 at Arctic Circle Arena, Beasley began experiencing chest pains. He consulted with the team doctor, who advised him to go to the hospital. The coach checked into the ER, fearing the worst. Fortunately, tests revealed that it was merely a case of acid reflux. Unfortunately, by the time Beasley left the hospital, the Shockers’ plane had already left Anchorage.
Unconcerned, the coach took the next flight to Seattle. When he arrived there, he found he had missed the connecting flight to Kansas City, and the next flight would not leave until the next day, too late for the game. Beasley did a bit of research on his phone and found a flight to Denver with a connection to KC that would get him there in plenty of time for the game. However, a snowstorm in Denver forced the coach’s plane to divert to Albuquerque, leaving him out of luck again.
“At that point, I called [assistant coach] Caleb [Ponder] and told him to get ready to coach the game,” Beasley said. “Mother Nature was clearly conspiring against me.”
Some further research led the Shockers coach to Amtrak’s Southwest Chief line, which runs between Albuquerque and Kansas City. The train gave Beasley a chance to get some much-needed shut-eye. However, when he awoke several hours later, he found that he was still in New Mexico. The train was not scheduled to arrive in Kansas City for 12 more hours, too late for the game.
“This all started because I thought I was having a heart attack,” said Beasley. “Now it seemed like all this travel craziness was going to give me one.”
Beasley got off the train in Trinidad, Colorado around 10:30 AM. He then rented a car and drove the rest of the way. It’s about nine and a half hours from Trinidad to Kansas City, but Beasley made it in eight and a half. “I may not have stuck to the speed limit the entire way,” he admitted.
A haggard and starving Beasley arrived at Heartland Telecom Center shortly after the puck dropped. While Ponder coached the team during the first period, Beasley grabbed a brisket sandwich from one of the concession stands and watched the game in the visiting locker room. When the Shockers tromped back to the clubhouse after the period, they welcomed their coach with a round of applause, awakening him from a catnap.
“We were just glad to see him back,” said LW Troy Chamberlain. “At that point, we didn’t know what he’d been through.”
Saskatchewan went on to beat the Smoke 2-1 in overtime, then flew back to Saskatchewan the next day. Beasley came with them this time.