The AHL released the details of the 2012-13 schedule (click here for Heat sked) today. The Heat’s 4th season of AHL hockey sees the Fraser Valley outfit moving back to the North Division – where year one and two were spent – after a single season in the West Division with the three Texas and single Oklahoma based clubs.
The Heat will now see divisional action against Toronto (TOR), Hamilton (MTL), Grand Rapids (DET), and Rochester (BUF) while their ‘special rivalry’ remains with the Vancouver Canucks affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, who they will play eight times in total, and are always a strong draw at the AESC.
Get your calendars and red pens out, here are some highlights of the 76-game regular season schedule:
START AT HOME – The Heat will open the schedule with four straight home games (two with each Peoria & Chicago), and 10 of the first 13 games of the season at the AESC. A possible work stoppage in the NHL could see the Heat serve as the only professional hockey team playing in Western Canada, and a front-end loaded schedule could be a huge boon to the club should that situation arise.
CANUCKS’ WOLVES INVADE – The Chicago Wolves are the toughest ticket of the season at the AESC as they enter the second season as the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks – I’m sure you’re familiar with the Canucks… No? The Wolves make two separate two-game visits to the Fraser Valley which both fall on Friday & Saturdays. The second weekend of the season (Oct 19th/20th) sees the Wolves in Abbotsford; they then return in January (11th/12th) for their final two visits of the year. Can you say perfect Christmas presents for Dad/UncleJim/Gramps/Cousin/Neighbour/Sister/Brother??
FAN FAVORITES – The Toronto Marlies and Hamilton Bulldogs always draw herds of fans draped in Habs and Leafs gear as they serve as the AHL affiliates of the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs – who were the only two Canadian clubs in the ‘Original 6′ era of the NHL. The Marlies visit on November 1st/2nd and April 12th/14th, while the Bulldogs are in #YXX (that’s twitter speak for Abbotsford) on November 30th and December 1st before returning on January 15th/16th.
HOME SWEET HOMESTAND – A.K.A. LONGEST STRETCH AT HOME – 8 games, 17 days -> January 4th-20th (vs. RCH x2, vs. CHI, vs. HAM, vs. MIL x2). Book the family visits here… nearly a game every two days… HUGE homestand.
LONGEST ROAD-TRIP – 7 games, 13 days -> March 5th-17th (@HAM, @RCH, @TOR, @RCH, @TEX, @HOU, @SA). From the Great Lakes to Texas… this trip will likely result in over two weeks (15-16 days) on the road for the club… laundromat & dry cleaners visits likely necessary.
HOME GAME DAILY BREAKDOWN – Monday -> 0 games. Tuesday -> 4 games. Wednesday -> 4 games. Thursday -> 1 game. Friday -> 13 games. Saturday -> 13 games. Sunday -> 3 games. The move away from Sundays is likely a great thing as the club really struggled last year with the Sunday matinees, and they didn’t draw well with fans either.
MONTHLY BREAKDOWN – October -> 7 games. November -> 12 games. December -> 13 games. January -> 11 games. February -> 13 games. March -> 14 games. April -> 6 games. As always the stretch run will be paramount to clinching a playoff spot and February and March are rammed with what will surely turn out to be massive clashes.
TIME FOR A BREAK – 6 days -> November 3rd-8th are all non-game days making it the longest break of the season if you ignore the Christmas break of the same length – which runs from the 23rd to the 28th. This is where the coaching staff can reward a team playing well with time off, or conversely use the time to adjust systems if the team is in a funk – let’s hope it’s the prior, not the later.
3-IN-3s – The dreaded back-to-back-to-backs – There are SIX of them this season (!!!). Not easy playing two games in two nights, never mind ‘three-in-three’, or even three within just 48 hours… Which happens. Lactic acid is the enemy on these taxing stretches of the schedule. October 26-28, November 23-25, December 29-31, January 31-February 2, March 8-10. UGH!
Can you taste AHL hockey? It’s just around the corner. See you at the rink soon.