Analyzing the 2013-14 Schedule

Analyzing the 2013-14 seasonLake Erie Monsters

Beginning with an opening weekend against the Abbotsford Heat- the second time in three seasons that the Monsters and Heat will open a season with a pair of games at Quicken Loans Arena- the 2012-13 Monsters schedule presents some similarities to previous years. It does, however, have its share of quirks, and a some big matchups at important times. The Monsters play each team from the Midwest and West Divisions of the Western Conference four times; twice in Cleveland and twice on the road.

New to the Monsters schedule this season: two new teams, and a couple scheduling firsts. Cleveland hockey fans will get their first looks at the Utica Comets and Iowa Wild. However, the Monsters will not play any Eastern Conference teams in 2012-13, marking the first season in team history in which the Monsters will not meet original Division rival Syracuse.

While the Heat have been to The Q for an opening weekend before, this season is a bit different, because October 4th and 5th will be the only chances all season for Monsters fans to see the Calgary Flames top affiliate. With Abbotsford moving out of the North Division to the West Division, the Monsters and Heat play each other just four times. The final two meetings- October 25th and 26th in Abbotsford- conclude the season series. One additional point on the opening weekend; the Monsters will open with three games in three days for the second straight season, and again finish off their opening weekend with an afternoon game in Toronto after a pair of home games. The opening weekend marks the Monsters first of five three-games-in-three-nights stretches of the season.

Similar to the layout of the season series with the Heat, the Monsters will host Rockford in a pair of games during the second weekend of the season. The Monsters open with four of their first five games at home, and get the long Abbotsford trip out of the way before October expires. November could be a pivotal month early in the season with the Monsters playing nine of their 12 November games against North Division foes. In November, the Monsters play each team in their division, and by the end of the season’s second month, they will have seen each of their division rivals at least twice.

On November 26 in Utica, the Monsters begin a streak of 11 consecutive games against North Division opponents that will take them into the AHL’s scheduled Christmas break. During that string of divisional games, the Monsters also see their first of three road trips of at least five games. December’s five-game road swing begins December 8 in Hamilton, and ends December 20 in Rochester; in the middle of that stretch is the Monsters first-ever outdoor game. On December 13, they will hit the ice outdoors at Rochester’s Frontier Park against the Americans.

After Christmas, the Chicago Wolves pay their only two visits of the season to The Q on December 27th and 28th, setting the table for an action-packed January in which the Monsters play 13 games; their highest monthly total for the season. In January, the Milwaukee Admirals make their only trip to The Q for a pair of games, while the Monsters make their only trips of the season to Rockford and Iowa. Of the Monsters 13 January games, just five are against their own division. They will see Midwest Division teams in seven of their 13 January games, and in their 10 games after Christmas, will see the Midwest Division in nine of them.

In February, the Monsters play one of two four-game homestands; oddly enough, four games is their longest string of consecutive home games during the season. On February 21st and 22nd, Iowa makes its first trip to The Q, and three days later, the Texas Stars come to Cleveland for a pair of mid-week games that includes the annual school day game. On February 28, the Monsters play on the road in Hamilton; the first of 14 road games over the Monsters final 23 games of the season.

In March, the Monsters see their rivals from Toronto three times, and conclude the eight-game season series with the Marlies on March 19th at The Q. The Monsters are also presented with the challenge of the season’s longest stretch of road games beginning on March 26th: seven straight away from The Q that feature matchups with Chicago, Milwaukee, San Antonio, and Texas.

In April, the Monsters see Utica twice, and Rochester and Hamilton once each, as the race for the Division title will undoubtedly be well underway. Like last season, the Monsters wrap-up the campaign with a home-and-home two-game set against the defending Calder Cup Champion Grand Rapids Griffins. Like last season, the Monsters will head to Grand Rapids on the final Friday of the regular season, and close out the ’12-13 schedule at home against the Griffins on April 19th.

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