The Tri-City Americans are going off script with their regular-season schedule to open their 30th season in the Western Hockey League.
For the first time since 2008, the Tri-City Americans will not open their season on home ice. It is also is the first time since 2009 they will not open against the Spokane Chiefs.
“We are happy with it, for the most part,” Tri-City general manager Bob Tory said of the schedule. “We are trying to put a lot of games into a limited window. We were able to avoid Friday nights against high school football, which is good. We finish the year with a healthy home schedule (7 of last 10 games), which is important.”
The first Friday night home game the Americans have on the schedule is Nov. 17 against Prince Albert.
The Americans open the regular season Sept. 23 on the road against the defending WHL champion Seattle Thunderbirds, then play at the Everett Silvertips the following night. Tri-City will have its 30th home opener on Sept. 30 against Everett.
“We play Spokane 12 times a year,” Tory said. “It’s not critical we open against them. We like to maximize our key dates.”
Of the 25 home weekend games, 10 are on Friday, 10 on Saturday and five on Sunday. Weekday games will include six on Wednesdays and five on Tuesdays.
Tri-City will make its annual trek to Victoria Oct. 10-11, and will make the first half of its Central Division trip Dec. 13-16, playing at Medicine Hat, Edmonton and Red Deer.
The first game after the Christmas holiday is Dec. 27 at Portland. Tri-City will play four games in five nights to close out 2017.
The Americans will then hop on the bus after the new year for their annual visit to Prince George on Jan. 5-6. The second half of their Central Division trip is Feb. 13-16 at Lethbridge, Calgary and Kootenay, with a stop at Spokane on the way home.
Key dates for the Americans include:
▪ Oct 21 — Alzheimer Awareness Night
▪ Nov. 6-7 — Russia-Canada Series (at Moose Jaw and Swift Current)
▪ Dec. 1 — Teddy Bear Toss Night
▪ Dec. 31 — Annual New Year’s Eve game against Spokane
▪ Jan. 25 — Top Prospects Game (Guelph, Ontario)
▪ Feb. 24 — Breast Cancer Awareness Night
Tri-City also plans a Military Night in January, and will have two home games during Thanksgiving week — Nov. 22 against Everett and Nov. 24 against Regina.
Single seats for the home opener go on sale Aug. 8. Tickets for the entire regular season go on sale Sept. 1.
CHL Import Draft
The Americans will have two picks in Wednesday’s draft, and Tory said he will use both.
Tri-City will have the 36th overall pick, and select 96th overall in the second round.
With Vladislav Lukin (Russia) being an overage player, he does not count — at the moment. With Juuso Välimäki (Finland) being a first-round NHL draft pick, the Americans get an extra pick.
“If we don’t bring either of them in, then we have to release them,” Tory said. “There are a lot of factors that come into play. We don’t know how long Calgary will keep Juuso. In the end, you can only keep two. We can keep four until the overage deadline. We will make decisions from there.”
Tri-City Americans Schedule
September: 23 at Seattle; 24 at Everett; 30 vs. Everett.
October: 3 vs. Seattle; 6 at Vancouver; 7 at Vancouver; 10 at Victoria; 11 at Victoria; 14 at Spokane; 17 vs. Kelowna; 18 at Everett; 21 vs. Kamloops; 25 vs. Moose Jaw; 27 at Kelowna; 28 at Kamloops.
November: 1 vs. Kelowna; 4 at Spokane; 10 at Seattle; 11 at Portland; 17 vs. Prince Albert; 18 vs. Victoria; 22 vs. Everett; 24 vs. Regina; 28 vs. Saskatoon.
December: 1 vs. Seattle; 2 vs. Spokane; 8 at Seattle; 10 vs. Everett; 13 at Medicine Hat; 15 at Edmonton; 16 at Red Deer; 27 at Portland; 29 vs. Portland; 30 at Spokane; 31 vs. Spokane.
January: 3 at Kelowna; 5 at Prince George; 6 at Prince George; 7 at Kamloops; 10 at Everett; 12 vs. Portland; 13 vs. Prince George; 15 at Everett; 17 vs. Swift Current; 19 vs. Brandon; 20 at Spokane; 27 vs. Spokane; 28 vs. Seattle; 31 vs. Victoria.
February: 2 vs. Portland; 3 at Portland; 6 at Seattle; 9 at Portland; 10 vs. Spokane; 13 at Lethbridge; 14 at Calgary; 16 at Kootenay; 17 at Spokane; 21 vs. Seattle; 23 vs. Kamloops; 24 vs. Prince George; 27 vs. Portland.
March: 2 vs. Spokane; 3 vs. Portland; 6 at Seattle; 9 vs. Vancouver; 10 at Portland; 11 vs. Vancouver; 13 vs. Everett; 16 at Spokane; 17 vs. Spokane; 18 vs. Seattle.