A most favorable schedule awaits the Tri-City Americans this season.
The Americans will play 46 of their 72 games on Fridays and Saturdays. They will play just two home games on Tuesday, two on Sunday and six on Wednesday.
“It is probably the best schedule we have had in 10 years,” Tri-City general manager Bob Tory said. “We have some long road trips and long homestands, but you have to give a little to get a little. That is the most weekend dates we have had. That is important for attendance, and the convenience of our fans.”
The Americans will open their 29th season hosting rival Spokane on Sept. 24. They return the favor on Oct. 1, playing in the Chiefs’ home opener.
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The Western Hockey League went back to its old scheduling plan this season, booting the computer program out of the mix. The general managers met earlier this month to hash out the schedule.
“You have the opportunity to work with other teams and you can make adjustments,” Tory said. “Sometimes, two or three teams can get together to solve a problem. We still play a lot of games in a short period of time, but this way you get a schedule that works for you. Tuesdays are good for Seattle, but not for us.”
The schedule also breaks the season in half equally, with 18 home games before and after the Christmas holiday break.
Tri-City was able to limit its schedule to just two home Friday games in October as not to compete with high school football.
“That is something we can stay away from by doing the scheduling ourselves instead of with the computer,” Tory said. “In Canada, that (Friday night football) is not as big an issue.”
The Americans will make their Eastern Conference road swing the first two weeks in January, starting with a stop in Kamloops along the way, and finishing at Swift Current.
“When you go to the far east, you can’t break it up,” Tory said. “Finishing in Swift Current puts us closer to home at the end of the trip. We added Kamloops to the start of the trip so we didn’t have to go another time. You try to avoid as many single games on the road as you can.”
The Americans will finish the season playing 12 of their final 19 games on home ice, including the annual Breast Cancer Awareness Game on Feb. 24.
Other key game are Teddy Bear Toss Night on Dec. 10, Military Night on Jan. 28, and the always popular annual New Year’s Eve game against Spokane.
There’s also a Thanksgiving feast of games, with the Americans hosting Vancouver the day before Thanksgiving, Seattle on Black Friday, and Vancouver again on Saturday.
Single seats for the home opener go on sale Aug. 8, while tickets for the remainder of the season will be available starting Sept. 1.
Tri-City Americans Schedule
September: 24 vs. Spokane; 25 at Portland.
October: 1 at Spokane; 2 vs. Everett; 5 at Everett; 7 at Everett; 8 vs. Lethbridge; 14 vs. Kamloops; 15 vs. Prince George; 18 at Portland; 21 at Kelowna; 22 at Kamloops; 23 at Vancouver; 25 at Portland; 27 at Everett; 28 vs. Victoria.
November: 4 vs. Portland; 5 at Spokane; 6 at Portland; 11 at Victoria; 12 at Victoria; 16 vs. Calgary; 18 vs. Kamloops; 19 vs. Edmonton; 23 vs. Vancouver; 25 vs. Seattle; 26 vs. Vancouver; 30 vs. Kelowna.
December: 2 vs. Portland; 3 vs. Spokane; 7 at Everett; 9 vs. Kelowna; 10 vs. Victoria; 13 at Prince George; 14 at Prince George; 16 at Everett; 17 at Seattle; 27 vs. Portland; 28 at Portland; 30 at Spokane; 31 vs. Spokane.
January: 3 at Kamloops, 6 at Prince Albert; 7 at Saskatoon; 10 at Moose Jaw; 11 at Brandon; 13 at Regina; 14 at Swift Current; 20 vs. Kootenay; 21 vs. Everett; 27 vs. Seattle; 28 vs. Spokane; 29 at Seattle.
February: 1 vs. Everett; 4 vs. Medicine Hat; 10 at Seattle; 11 at Spokane; 13 at Vancouver; 15 vs. Red Deer; 17 vs. Seattle; 18 vs. Spokane; 22 vs. Portland; 24 vs. Seattle; 25 at Spokane.
March: 3 at Seattle; 4 at Kelowna; 10 vs. Prince George; 11 vs. Everett; 14 vs. Portland; 17 vs. Spokane; 18 at Spokane; 19 vs. Everett.