The Tri-City Americans will open their 2014-15 season against U.S. Division rival Spokane for the fifth consecutive season.
The Americans will host the Chiefs on Sept. 20 in one of 12 games between the teams this season eight of which are after the Christmas break.
Tri-City will play three home games to open the season before hitting the road for seven consecutive games, which includes a six-game swing through the East Division.
It certainly is better than last year, said Tri-City general manager Bob Tory. We arent loaded with home games in October like last year, which really hurt our attendance.
Of their 36 home games, the Americans will play 29 on the weekend, with 13 on Fridays, 12 on Saturdays and four on Sundays.
Tri-City will play Western Conference champion Portland and Everett each 10 times, and will face Seattle eight times. The Americans play the Winterhawks twice before Christmas and eight times the second half of the season.
The Americans play just three home games in October, with eight on the road. The schedule flips around in November, where Tri-City has eight home games and just four on the road.
The big thing, is the weather is so nice here early in the season that people arent really into hockey yet, Tory said. Its a weekend league and that is important, as is the second half of the season. Except for a couple of road trips that are difficult, this is much better than last year.
A tough stretch of the schedule comes the first 10 days of January, where the Americans play at Seattle on the 2nd, at Portland on the 3rd and at Prince George on Jan. 6-7. Tri-City then plays at home the 10th against the Thunderbirds, and at Seattle the following night.
Three of the six Central Division teams visit Toyota Center in November, with Memorial Cup champion Edmonton on Nov. 5, followed by Red Deer (Nov. 8) and Lethbridge (Nov. 28). Kootenay visits Dec. 7, while Medicine Hat comes to town Jan. 30, and Calgary Feb. 21.
The Americans have four weekends where they play three games in a row one is on their Eastern road swing, and one ends the season.
The Americans will play eight preseason games, including three at the Everett Holiday Inn Classic on Aug. 29-31 at Comcast Arena, and three at the Red Lion Hotels Preseason Tournament on Sept. 4-6 at Toyota Center. Tri-City will play Kootenay, Red Deer and Spokane.
Tri-City will finish the preseason with home-and-home games with the Chiefs on Sept. 11 at Spokane Arena and Sept. 13 at Toyota Center.
The Under-18 team will play in the 2014 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament in Piestany, Slovakia, and Breclav, Czech Republic, from Aug. 11-16.
This is wonderful, Tory said. He got to go to the Team Canada camp, and now to the U-18. The experience just makes them better players.
Coaching carousel: When the season starts in September, five of the Western Conference teams will have new faces behind the bench. Mike Williamson takes over the Americans, while Don Hay left Vancouver for Kamloops. In Kelowna, Ryan Huska stepped down as coach of the Rockets to coach the Calgary Flames minor league affiliate in Adirondack, New York. The Rockets hired Dan Lambert, who spent the last five years as Huskas assistant, to take over behind the bench. In Portland, the Winterhawks not only lose a plethora of talent, but coach Mike Johnston was hired to coach the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday. In Seattle, the Thunderbirds are set for the foreseeable future with coach Steve Konowalchuk signing a three-year contract extension Tuesday. And in Everett, the Silvertips signed assistant coach Mitch Love through the 2016-17 season. He is entering his fourth season with the team. In the end, Portland and Vancouver still are looking for coaches.