New Schedule Quirks
08/22/2011 1:38 PM - Mike Peck
The new schedule is finally out! It’s quite a task to put together a 30-team, 76 game slate while trying to balance available home dates for all 30 teams. To keep costs down, the league tries to keep the schedule as travel friendly as possible.
There are a handful of teams (the three Texas teams, OKC, Abbotsford, St. Johns, Norfolk and Charlotte) that have a little bit rougher road schedule than the rest of the league. To help ease some travel, the AHL realigned in 2011-12 and the IceHogs will face divisional opponents head-to-head more than they did in the past.
Rockford will play 12 games each against Chicago, Milwaukee and Peoria and eight against Charlotte.
I like to judge the difficulty of a hockey schedule by travel (ie. quick turnarounds, busy stretches, etc.) The 2011-12 slate was actually lengthened by a week while getting four games chopped off. This eliminates three games in four nights, making it a much less taxing schedule.
The IceHogs only have two same-day games as flights and they both fall in the month of January (OKC to San Antonio on Sat., Jan.14 and Charlotte to Milwaukee on Sat., Jan. 28). Three games in three nights haven’t been eliminated however, as the IceHogs have seven of those.
Overall, it’s a pretty good scheduled from a travel standpoint. You can’t really judge a season’s worth of games in any sport by “strength of schedule” either. It’s not really who you play, it’s more when you play them. Every team goes through hot and cold stretches during a 76-game season.
But there are plenty of oddities with the IceHogs schedule.
Peoria Early and Often: Nine of Rockford’s first 33 games will be against the Peoria Rivermen in 2011-12, running through New Year’s Eve, meaning just three of Rockford’s final 47 contests will feature Peoria.
Where’s Milwaukee?: Rockford will have played Peoria seven times before they see Milwaukee for the first time in 2011-12. The IceHogs first tilt against the Ads is set for Sunday, Dec. 11, Rockford’s 25th game of the season. Of their final 51 games, nearly a quarter of them (12) will be played against Milwaukee.
Wolves Out By March: If you’re looking for some meaningful Rockford- Chicago battles during the playoff push this season, you’re going to be disappointed. The IceHogs and Wolves wrap up their 12-game season set on Sunday, Feb. 26. Rockford will play their final 20 regular season games Wolves-free.
Early Risers: For the first time in Rockford’s 13 seasons of professional hockey, the IceHogs will play two morning games. Technically one of them is a noon start time (Nov. 9 at Grand Rapids), but is an 11 a.m. beginning in the Central Time Zone. The Hogs will also take on Chicago at 11 a.m. on Jan. 11.
Friday Free Hockey: Rockford will not play a Friday home game until Nov. 25, Week 8 of the AHL regular season. Beginning Nov. 25, Rockford will play home contests over five of the next six Fridays with the only off Friday falling on Dec. 23, the weekend of Christmas.
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