Portland, ME – The American Hockey League released their schedule on Thursday, and the Portland Pirates will open their 19th season on the road in Bridgeport, Connecticut on Oct. 8.
The Pirates won’t play another game until their home opener on Oct. 15 when they face-off against the Manchester Monarchs. The Pirates will face their nearby rival a total of 12 times during the 76-game schedule including three times in the first month of the season.
The Pirates have a weekend heavy home schedule this season with 27 of the 38 games taking place on the weekend.
“This season’s schedule provides a balanced blend of dates and start times in response to what our fans have been telling us over the past few seasons,” Pirates Managing Owner/CEO Brian Petrovek said in the team’s press release. “Additionally, we have enhanced traditional favorites on the promotional side of our business with exciting new programs and activities to improve the fan experience and begin a new era of Portland Pirates hockey, Phoenix Coyotes style!”
The AHL reduced the league’s schedule down to 76 games from traditional 80 games after the board of governors met earlier this summer in an attempt to alleviate some of the travel congestion, giving players more of an opportunity to rest, recuperate and practice during the regular season. That means the Pirates no longer have to endure some of the more archaic scheduling practices, like playing nine games in 11 days as they did last season.
In fact, the worst string of games the Pirates will face this season is in January when they play six games in nine days. However, three-in-three’s will still be part of the normal routine because teams covet those Friday, Saturday and Sunday dates to generate much-needed revenue.
Portland will have nine three-in-three’s on the schedule, playing two in December, January and February and three in March.
Other highlights include playing the defending Calder Cup Champions Binghamton Senators at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Feb. 4. Portland will return to “The Rock” on Oct. 25 and 26 when travel to St. John’s Newfoundland for the first time since the 2004-’05 season.
The Pirates will face opponents in back-to-back situations eight times this season. Their longest road trip will be eight games (Mar. 18th — Apr. 4th) likewise, the longest homestand is seven games (Jan. 18th — Feb. 4th).
The Pirates busiest month of the season will be March when they play 14 games in 31 days.
They will have several traditional dates on the calendar this season including the New Year’s Eve game against Worcester and the School Day game on Mar. 6 at 11am against the Monarchs. They will have two other matinee games on Jan. 2 at 1pm (vs. Connecticut) and Feb. 20 at 1pm (vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton). The Pirates play a matinee game on the road this season in Manchester on Nov. 9 at 11am.
In addition to the traditional dates, the Pirates have several promotional events lined up throughout the season. During three Friday dates this season, the Pirates will be handing out bobblehead dolls (Andy Miele (January 20th); Dean Arsene (February 3rd); Curtis McElhinney (March 2nd)) to fans prior to the game. The Pirates will also wear specialty jerseys this season, once for Breast Cancer Awareness in Oct. and new for this season will be a St. Patrick’s Day jersey.