The 2016-17 American Hockey League campaign will mark the seventh season of Albany Devils hockey at the Times Union Center and the twentieth for a New Jersey Devils affiliate at the downtown arena. For the second consecutive season, the A-Devils will call the Eastern Conference North Division home.
Albany, which went a franchise-best 46-20-8-2 (102 points) in 2015-16, will play a 76-game regular season slate. The Devils, who boasted a League-best 27-7-3-1 record and .763 winning percentage at home, will again play all 38 home contests at the TU Center. Albany’s home opener will commence on October 15.
— Albany Devils (@AlbanyDevils) August 22, 2016
Upon the release of the 2016-17 AHL schedule, here’s a list of which games the Devils faithful should look for and look forward to:
October 14 at Providence Bruins
As they did last season, the Devils begin their quest for the Calder Cup on the road. Albany will head to Providence and face the Bruins. Providence is coached by a familiar face to Albany fans. Bruins first year bench boss Kevin Dean was a defenseman and captain on the 1994-95 Calder Cup champion Albany River Rats. Last season Albany went 3-2-0-1 against Providence.
Congrats to Kevin Dean for being named the head coach of the Providence Bruins! We are lucky to have you! pic.twitter.com/OroE8EVywB
— Providence Bruins (@AHLBruins) July 18, 2016
October 15 vs. St. John’s IceCaps
Albany will start its home slate against St. John’s. This marks the first of eight tilts between the North Division foes. Last season, the Devils went 3-5-0-0 against the IceCaps.
October 22 vs. Utica Comets
Empire State Thruway rivals, North Division rivals and Calder Cup playoff rivals. This marks a rematch of last spring’s first-round playoff bout between the two squads. The Devils handled the Comets in four games and have yet to lose to them in regulation since their rivalry commenced in 2013-14. Last season the Devils went 6-0-2-0 against the Comets last season. Albany and Utica will clash eight times this season. Fans are known to travel well for this one too.
October 28 vs. Toronto Marlies
This marks the first time the two clubs will meet since their second round playoff bout last spring. Toronto took that best-of-seven, four games to three. Last season the Devils went 2-2-2-0 against the Marlies. It may feel like a mini playoff series, as the two clubs square off the next evening in Albany.
November 11 vs. Hershey Bears
The reigning Eastern Conference champs come to town. Last season the Devils went 1-0-0-1 against the Bears.
January 13 vs. Springfield Thunderbirds
The return of the “Champ.” For the first time since the 2010-11 campaign, former Albany River Rats Calder Cup champion, captain, defenseman and assistant coach, Geordie Kinnear, returns as head coach of the Thunderbirds. With the Arizona Coyotes moving the Springfield Falcons out west to become the Tuscon Roadrunners and the Portland Pirates uprooting to Springfield, this will be the first time the Devils face the Florida Panthers affiliated Thunderbirds.
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) July 26, 2016
January 18 vs. Syracuse Crunch
Yet another Empire State foe, this marks the return of fan favorite Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond. Last season the Devils went 5-1-0-0 against the Crunch. Albany and Syracuse will go head-to-head on eight occasions this season.
— TB Lightning Feed (@TBLightningFeed) July 1, 2016
April 1 vs. Hartford Wolf Pack
It’s always fun and a little rowdy to see and hear the back and forth between fans wearing the respective sweaters of the regional parent club rivals. Albany is on the Hudson after all. Last season the Devils went 4-0-2-0 against the Wolf Pack, clinching a postseason berth on home ice in a 3-0 win against Hartford last March.
This season Albany will face all 13 Eastern Conference opponents and zero from the Western Conference. Albany will face North Division rivals Binghamton, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Toronto and St. John’s, eight times apiece.
The Devils will play 25 of their 38 home contests on the weekend.
Albany’s longest homestand are in two four-game intervals, from February 15-20 and April 1-7. Albany longest road trip will extend six-games, from February 24 to March 11.
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.