The Western Hockey League used a new computer program to create this year’s schedule, and while the Tri-City Americans have four three-games-in-three-nights weekends, general manager Bob Tory is pleased, for the most part, with how the schedule came together.
“The process was to make it fair for everyone,” Tory said. “It’s almost impossible to have it balanced for everyone every year. Obviously we would like to have more Saturday games and more games in the second half. Weekend games after Christmas do better than before the holiday.”
The Americans open the regular season Sept. 21 against rival Spokane, then host Prince George the following day. They have season-high seven home games in October.
Of the 26 weekend home games, 13 are on Friday, 10 on Saturday and three on Sunday — but only two after the Prince George game Sept. 22. The Americans also will play 18 home games before Christmas and 18 after.
“Sundays are not a good day anymore,” Tory said. “You can’t even count them as a weekend game. You lose a Saturday or two and that is a tremendous hit to your bottom line. Weekdays aren’t good for anyone, but we all have them.”
Tri-City has 10 weekday games at home, one being the annual New Year’s game against Spokane. Seven of the games are on Tuesdays, while the remaining three are on Wednesdays.
The team also took a hit in October, where they play at home three of the four Fridays.
“Last year we traveled in October and were able to avoid going up against high school football,” Tory said. “It just makes it tough to get the dates you want when you take time out for the Subway Series, the Top Prospects Game and Christmas.”
The WHL will not play any games Nov. 24 because of the Grey Cup, Nov. 25-28 for the Subway Series, and Christmas break is scheduled for Dec. 18-26. There also won’t be any games Jan. 15 because of the Top Prospects Game, or Feb. 2 because of the Super Bowl.
Tri-City will play Spokane 12 times — including eight games after Christmas. The Americans will play the Portland Winterhawks and Seattle Thunderbirds 10 times each, while playing Everett eight times. They also will play each B.C. Division team four times — two at home, two on the road.
The Americans will host all six teams from the East Division this season, while traveling to the Central Division, which they will do in two separate trips.
Tri-City will play at Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Kootenay Nov. 1-3. They will finish their Central swing after Christmas, playing at Calgary on Jan. 29, at Edmonton on Jan. 31, and at Red Deer on Feb. 1.
“It makes it easier on the team,” Tory said of splitting the trip.
While the league took traveling costs into consideration, the Americans will make two separate trips to Victoria, but still will play back-to-back in Prince George (Dec. 6-7).
“Either way, it’s not cost effective,” Tory said of going to Victoria. “Single trips or two games in three nights. You are feeding 30 people and you have 15 hotel rooms. How we treat our players is not going to change. We are going to make sure we stay in nice places and the meals are going to be nutritious and proper. We try to run a first-class operation and those (accommodations and meals) are not the ways to cut corners.”
Tri-City Americans 2013-14 regular-season schedule
All times 7:05 p.m. unless otherwise noted
September — 21, vs. Spokane; 22, vs. Prince George (5:05 p.m.); 24, at Portland (7 p.m.); 27, at Seattle (7:35 p.m.); 28, at Spokane.
October — 1, vs. Seattle; 4, at Everett (7:35 p.m.); 6, at Victoria (1:05 p.m.); 8, at Kamloops (7 p.m.); 11, vs. Kamloops; 12, at Seattle; 16, at Portland (7 p.m.); 18, vs. Victoria; 19, vs. Portland; 22, vs. Swift Current; 25, vs. Seattle; 26, vs. Brandon.
November — 1, at Medicine Hat (6:30 p.m.); 2, at Lethbridge (6 p.m.); 3, at Kootenay (5 p.m.); 6, at Portland (7 p.m.); 8, at Everett (7:35 p.m.); 9, vs. Everett; 15, vs. Regina; 16, at Vancouver (7 p.m.); 19, vs. Vancouver; 22, vs. Kelowna; 23, at Spokane; 29, vs. Victoria; 30, vs. Spokane.
December — 3, vs. Saskatoon; 6, at Prince George ( 7 p.m.); 7, at Prince George (7 p.m.); 10, vs. Seattle; 13, vs. Prince George; 17, at Seattle; 27, vs. Portland; 28, at Portland (7 p.m.); 31, vs. Spokane.
January — 3, vs. Portland; 5, at Vancouver (5 p.m.); 7, vs. Kamloops; 10, at Everett (7:35 p.m.); 11, vs. Everett; 17, at Seattle (7:35 p.m.); 18, vs. Spokane; 19, vs. Vancouver; 22, vs. Moose Jaw; 24, vs. Seattle; 25, at Spokane; 29, at Calgary (6 p.m.); 31, at Edmonton (6 p.m.).
February — 1, at Red Deer (6 p.m.); 7, vs. Portland; 8, vs. Spokane; 10, at Kamloops (2 p.m.); 12, at Victoria; 14, at Seattle (7:35 p.m.); 15, at Spokane; 19, at Kelowna; 21, vs. Prince Albert; 22, vs. Everett; 26, vs. Kelowna; 28, at Everett (7:35 p.m.).
March — 1, at Spokane; 5, vs. Portland; 7, vs. Everett; 8, at Kelowna; 11, at Portland (7 p.m.); 14, at Spokane; 15, vs. Spokane; 16, vs. Seattle (5:05 p.m.).