Chicago Wolves Hockey Team Makes Flight For Playoff Game

The American Hockey League team was stranded due to O'Hare problems

By BJ Lutz and Lauren Petty
|  Wednesday, May 14, 2014  |  Updated 9:07 PM CDT
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A Tuesday fire, compounded by Monday night's severe weather equals some very unhappy travelers. NBC 5's Dick Johnson reports.

A Tuesday fire, compounded by Monday night's severe weather equals some very unhappy travelers. NBC 5's Dick Johnson reports.

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Among the thousands of travelers trying to make their way out of Chicago Tuesday after smoke in a nearby Federal Aviation Administration radar facility virtually halted local airspace were the players, coaches and support staff of the Chicago Wolves hockey team.

The American Hockey League team was scheduled to play the Toronto Marlies in a Calder Cup Playoff game on Wednesday night.

The team managed to find a flight in time to get to Toronto for the big game.

"Sixteen finally got there with our coaches last night around 11 o'clock [or] midnight. The other 10 players are trying to get out this morning at six. Some are maybe on a flight at 11 [o'clock]. They're split on like three or four different flights," team spokesman Lindsey Willhite said Wednesday.

He said the team, which travels with about 2,500 pounds of gear, will miss a Wednesday morning skate.

More than 1,120 flights were canceled between the two Chicago airports, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. Some planes that were lined up on the tarmac left their place in line and returned to gates to avoid penalties. The U.S. Department of Transportation in December 2009 instituted new rules prohibiting airlines from keeping passengers on an airport tarmac for more than three hours.

FAA.gov: About Air Traffic Control

The nation's TRACON facilities manage the approach and departure of aircraft for a specific airport or a cluster of airports within a defined geographic area. They differ from command centers, which guide planes through large sections of airspace. The towers at airports primarily deal with the movement of planes on the ground.

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