The American Hockey League released its 2013-14 regular season schedule on Thursday, and the Abbotsford Heat are set to start on the road in Cleveland.
The Heat travel to take on the Lake Erie Monsters in a two-game set, Oct. 4-5. It’s the second time in three years Abbotsford is opening in Cleveland – they also did so in 2011-12.
The first regular season home games at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre are the following weekend, as the Milwaukee Admirals visit on Oct. 11-12.
Other schedule highlights are as follows, and the complete schedule can be viewed at theahl.com.
• As announced on Wednesday, the Heat will host the Utica Comets, the Vancouver Canucks’ new AHL affiliate, seven times in 2013-14. That includes a preseason game on Sept. 22, plus six regular season games. The regular season home dates vs. Utica are Nov. 29-30, Jan. 24-25, and March 14-15. The two teams also play six times in Utica.
• When the Heat were grouped with the Charlotte Checkers in the West Division as part of an AHL realignment back in July, it was an eyebrow-raiser. But the two teams will only play each other four times, rather than the typical eight times divisional foes see each other. The Checkers travel to Abbotsford for a pair of games Feb. 4-5, with the Heat making a reciprocal trip for games Feb. 14 and 16.
• The Heat’s longest road trip of the season is a seven-game jaunt, beginning Nov. 13 at the Texas Stars and wrapping up Nov. 24 at the Iowa Wild. As longest trips go, this one is actually relatively short – the Heat had a nine-game stint away from home in 2009-10, a 10-gamer in 2010-11, and an eight-gamer in 2012-13.
• Abbotsford’s longest homestand is eight games, a situation which occurs twice on the schedule – once in late January/early February, and once in late February/early March.
• All of the Heat’s home games begin at 7 p.m., with five exceptions. The team’s four Sunday games will all be afternoon starts. Three of those – Nov. 10 vs. the Toronto Marlies, Feb. 9 vs. the Texas Stars and March 9 vs. the Chicago Wolves – have an opening faceoff at 4 p.m., while the April 13 game vs. the Oklahoma City Barons begins at 1 p.m.
The Heat’s Tuesday, March 4 home date with the Texas Stars begins at 10:30 a.m., which would presumably signify the annual school day game.