Last updated: February 19. 2013 11:14PM - 239 Views

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Three days simply isn't enough time to travel 4,300 miles.

That's how far away Dominik Uher's hometown of Ostrava, in the Czech Republic, is from Wilkes-Barre, and that's why he'll be spending the three-day Christmas break away from home.

But Uher won't be alone. In fact, he'll be spending Christmas Day with Czech and Slovak hockey players on other teams who can't make it home either. They'll meet up in New York City and enjoy the day.

With only three days off it's tough, but there's nothing you can do about it but make the most of it, Uher said. It's going to be different, but I'm excited for it.

Spending Christmas Day with family can be a challenge for many pro hockey players. Their jobs take them far away from home and in some years the schedule just doesn't allow enough time to get back. This season the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins broke for Christmas after Saturday night's game in Syracuse and return for a 10 a.m. pregame skate Wednesday before facing the Bears in Hershey that night.

Last season the Penguins had seven days off for Christmas, allowing players like Brad Thiessen, who lives 2,800 miles away in Aldergrove, British Columbia, plenty of time to go home for the holidays.

But that's not the case this year.

It will be the first time I haven't been back home for Christmas, Thiessen said. It's different, but my wife's family is from New Jersey so we'll be going there. It's going to be our first Christmas together so that will be fun.

Despite being more than 2,300 miles from his home in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Joseph Morrow isn't going to let the distance keep him from spending Christmas with his family.

Even if it means doing more traveling than visiting.

Morrow will spend all day Sunday traveling, then he'll celebrate Christmas on Monday with his family before heading back to Wilkes-Barre on Christmas day.

My family wants to see me pretty bad and I'd like to get home, he said. I don't want to stop the tradition of coming home for Christmas. I haven't missed one yet and I don't plan on it.

Even head coach John Hynes had to improvise this year to spend Christmas with his family. While Hynes will spend the three-day break with his wife and three daughters at home, he won't make it back to see his family back home in Rhode Island.

But thanks to his wife, Hynes' children will get a chance to celebrate Christmas with both sides of the family.

My wife and the three girls left on Thursday to go to my family's in Rhode Island, then we'll celebrate Christmas here from Dec. 23 to the 25th, and on Christmas night she'll take the girls and fly to Wisconsin to be with her family for 10 days, Hynes said. She gets the wife of the year award.

The challenges of holidays and hockey schedules are nothing new for Warren Peters. He hasn't been back to his hometown of Saskatoon, SK, to celebrate Christmas for several years.

Peters learned early on in his career that oftentimes the life of a pro hockey player means spending holidays such as Christmas away from home.

During his first pro season in 2003-2004, Peters was playing with the Utah Grizzlies in the AHL when he booked a flight home for Christmas. Two days before he was scheduled to fly home, Peters was sent down to Idaho in the ECHL and couldn't make the flight.

Instead of being with his family in Saskatoon for Christmas, Peters spent the holiday in Idaho.

That was probably the hardest one. I missed Christmas for the first time and got sent down to a team where I hadn't spent a lot of time and I didn't have a lot of relationships built up with teammates, he said.

I've spent Christmas mornings in airports and that's probably the reason I haven't tried to go back home again (for the holiday). Sitting in an airport in the morning… that's not really Christmas.

Over the course of his career Peters' has learned to improvise for the holidays in order spend time with those he is close with. For the last five years that meant flying back to his in-laws in Iowa where he spends Christmas with his wife and son.

With a little guy, you can't miss Christmas. That's not an option, Peters said. We make the most of it every year and it's still going to be memorable.

Some Penguin players will still find their way back home for Christmas no matter how many miles separate them from their family. Despite being more than 2,700 miles from his family in California, rookie Beau Bennett will still plans on being there for the three-day Christmas break.

Bennett hasn't missed a family Christmas in all 20 years of his life, and he's determined not to let this year be the first. To accomplish the feat, Bennett will head to the airport after Saturday's game to fly home. Because there are no direct flights to California, he said it will take 10 hours to get there and he'll have to fly back on Christmas day.

My last two years in college I had seven and 13 days off for Christmas, so this is a new experience for me, Bennett said. But it's important to get back home, enjoy the nice weather and see my friends and family.

And for those who can't make it back home for Christmas, Peters said there are still ways to spend the Christmas holiday, albeit with a different family.

When it comes to holidays, you sometimes have to lean on your teammates and come together, he said. It's kind of funny. Every year your team has a different group of guys, but with the holidays it's always the same. You have a tight group that takes care of each other and makes sure no one is on their own for Christmas.

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