You could fill an entire sports page with horror stories from the roads traveled by Cental Hockey League players, beginning with this season’s bus fire that caused the recent Missouri Mavericks home game against the Tulsa Oilers to be postponed about an hour.

You could fill an entire sports page with horror stories from the roads traveled by Cental Hockey League players, beginning with this season’s bus fire that caused the recent Missouri Mavericks home game against the Tulsa Oilers to be postponed about an hour.

It seems the bus was traveling along when something caused a fire near a wheel.

The players smelled the smoke, the bus pulled to the side of the highway outside of Tulsa and the players escaped, only to watch flames engulf their ride to Independence.

The inferno destroyed just about every personal possession belonging to the Oilers.

However, one player placed his false teeth and iPod under his seat in a satchel and when players were allowed to return to the smoking shell, they were still under his seat – smokey, but undamaged.

While many of the Mavericks had tales of bus mishaps, conked out engines and flat tires, no one could match a tale Gerry Festa recalled from a memorable 2003 trip from Prince George to Calgary when he was a member of the Calgary Hitmen of the Junior Western Hockey League.

“It was snowing, I mean really snowing hard,” said Festa, the Mavericks personable goaltender, “and every now and again the bus would swerve.

“We’re all wondering what was going on, and the driver said that they had put salt on the highway and moose were everywhere. They had come out of the woods to lick the salt, and he was trying to dodge them. He said it had happened four or five times.

“We were in the back, playing cards, and I was sitting with my back to the driver. All of a sudden, I look at the eyes of my teammate Ryan Getzloff (who is now playing in the NHL with Anaheim) and his eyes are as big as silver dollars.

“I mean, I know something bad is about to happen when all of a sudden – BOOM!”

The bus hit a large moose, and began swerving out of control across the highway.

“We’re bouncing all over the place wondering what’s going to happen,” Festa said, “when he finally gets it under control. When he finally stopped, we got off the bus and saw he had swerved off the road – and I don’t know how he managed to keep it under control.

“Six of us players then went back and drug the moose off the highway, because we didn’t want another motorist to hit it. It was huge. And it did a ton of damage to the bus, we were able to continue on our way to Calgary.”