With the American Hockey League set to celebrate 80 seasons of play, the AHL regular season schedule is out. This will be the sixth season of Albany Devils hockey at the Times Union Center. Albany fans hope it won’t be their last.
In total, the Devils will play 76 regular season contests, splitting 38 home and 38 away. All 38 home games will be played in Albany, unlike in years past when the team would play a few games at either Atlantic City or Newark. Seeing as how the club only has a one-year lease agreement with the arena through this season, if you believe the whispers in some circles, all 38 could wind up in Newark next season but I’ll leave those rumors for another place and time.
— The Hockey Writers (@TheHockeyWriter) August 27, 2015
On the slate, there’s a lot to like and a few items which fans may not be so keen on. Given the league’s westward migration and the addition of a Pacific Division, with realignment the schedule is chock full of geographic and affiliate rivalries; good for on-ice intensity and at the box office.
Personally, I like the balance of home games per month this season, as opposed to say having a month in the dead of winter with nothing going on and only two games on the docket, leaving one to wonder if there’s still a team around. There’s no less than four home games per month, the low coming in October and a high of eight in January. What I’m not in love with is the many 5:00 p.m. Saturday puck drops. All but two of the of the 12 Saturday home games will start at 5:00 p.m. It’s an awkward time and terrible for attendance. Back when Albany used to average more than 6,000 fans in the 1990s, they had 7:30 p.m. start times.
Albany opens up the campaign with four straight road games, beginning at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena, against the Binghamton Senators, on October 10. In the October 24 home opener, Albany plays host to the newly affiliated Portland Pirates (Florida Panthers). Coming to the TU Center this year, following a hiatus are the Rochester Americans, Toronto Marlies and Lehigh Valley (by way of Adirondack and Philadelphia) Phantoms. Plus, along with the aforementioned Pirates, there’s a couple of remaining clubs with new affiliates, Springfield Falcons (Arizona Coyotes) and the St. John’s IceCaps (Montreal Canadiens).
Playing in the North Division, the Devils will face the Utica Comets (4/4), B-Sens (4/4) and IceCaps (4/4) eight times apiece and the Syracuse Crunch (3/3), Amerks (3/3) and Marlies (3/3) six times apiece. Rounding out the rest of the schedule from the Atlantic Division, the Devils play the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (4/4) eight times, Hartford Wolf Pack (3/3), Providence Bruins (3/3) and Springfield Falcons (3/3) six times apiece, Pirates (1/1), Phantoms (1/1), Hershey Bears (1/1) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1/1) twice apiece.
Hence the Devils will play 28 contests against Empire State foes and should get a bump at the box office with a decent amount of games against affiliates of close regional NHL teams. Being mostly a weekend league, Albany will play 12 home games on Saturday, seven on Friday and Sunday, three on Tuesday and nine on Wednesday.
— Albany Devils (@AlbanyDevils) August 27, 2015
While we won’t know how the roster will shape up until camp breaks in Newark, the A-Devils schedule should make for an intriguing season.
Michael Gwizdala covers the New York Islanders for The Hockey Writers. Michael is also an Associate Producer at WNYT NewsChannel 13. Additionally, Michael was once a Media Relations intern for the AHL Albany River Rats. Michael is a graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.