The 2012-2013 season – the first in the ECHL for the IceMen – officially begins on October 13, exactly 2 months from today. So with that in mind, it’s time to dive into the season schedule and see what we have to look forward to. Our exclusive IceMenManiacs.com “Season at a Glance” feature examines IceMen opponents, offers a by-the-numbers breakdown of the schedule, and provides a list of season highlights that includes noteworthy home games and potential fan road trips, and much more. From Fort Wayne to Florida and from orange ice to the All-Star Game, we’ve got you covered!
Evansville will play all 72 games against Eastern Conference opponents – 46 within the North Division, 13 against the Atlantic Division, and 13 against the South Division. The IceMen will play every team in the Eastern Conference at least once…
• Within the North Division, the IceMen will square off with the Cincinnati Cyclones more than any other opponent (13 times). The IceMen will host the Cyclones 5 times, and visit Cincinnati (Evansville’s closest rival geographically) for 8 games. The Cyclones went 35-28-9 last season, missing the playoffs by just a single point in the standings.
• The Kalamazoo Wings will be Evansville’s next most common opponent, with 12 meetings between the teams. Evansville and the K-Wings will play an even series, with 6 games at the friendly confines of the Ford Center and 6 games in Michigan. Kalamazoo finished 38-26-8 last season, capturing the division title and scoring more goals than any other ECHL team during the regular season.
• Hoosier Hockey is alive and well, and the war between Evansville and Fort Wayne will feature 11 battles this season. The IceMen will host 5 games of the intrastate rivalry’s third season, with the Komets hosting 6. Fort Wayne went 40-19-7 in the CHL last season, and the Komets come to the ECHL on the heels of winning the CHL playoff championship.
• The IceMen will play an even 10 games against their final divisional opponent, the Toledo Walleye. Each team will host 5 games in the season series. Toledo finished last in the North Division last season, with a 28-38-6 record.
• Each of the 4 teams from the Atlantic Division will come to Evansville this season. The IceMen play 4 games against the Elmira Jackals (2 home and 2 road), 3 games against the Reading Royals (2 home and 1 road), 3 games against the Trenton Titans (2 home and 1 road), and 3 games against the Wheeling Nailers (1 home and 2 road).
• The IceMen will play all 5 South Division teams, hosting 4 of the 5. Evansville will meet the Gwinnett Gladiators 4 times (3 home and 1 road), the Greenville Road Warriors 3 times (all at home), the Orlando Solar Bears twice (1 home and 1 road), and the South Carolina Stingrays twice (1 home and 1 road). The IceMen will not host the Florida Everblades this season, but will play the defending ECHL Kelly Cup Champions twice on the road.
BREAKING IT DOWN
Analyzing the schedule by month and day of the week, taking a look at lengthy homestands and road trips, counting up the back-to-backs and three-in-threes, and more…
• On a month-by-month basis, the IceMen have an extremely well-balanced schedule over the duration of the season. October gets things started with 7 games in just over half of the month. The season kicks into high gear in November with 14 games, then slows just a bit with 13 games in December. The “leanest” months of the season are January and February, with 12 games each. The schedule then concludes with 14 games in March, tying it with November as the season’s busiest months.
• Looking solely at Evansville’s home schedule, the action peaks when the weather should be making fans think about hockey the most. After 5 home games each in October and November, the schedule sports a whopping 9 home games in December. The IceMen have another 7 home games in January, then drop back to 5 Ford Center appearances during both February and March.
• The vast majority of Evansville’s games (55 of 72 overall) will be played on weekends. Saturday is the busiest day of the week, with the IceMen set to be active on all 25 Saturdays during the regular season. Evansville will also play 22 Friday games and 8 Sunday games. Wednesday will be the busiest weekday, with 13 total games. The team will generally be idle on the other weekdays, with just 2 Thursday games, 1 Monday game, and 1 Tuesday game.
• The home schedule for the IceMen is very favorable this season, certainly an improvement over last season. A solid majority (28 of 36) of the team’s home games will fall on the weekend, including 12 Friday games and 11 Saturday games. (By comparison, Evansville had just 5 Saturday home games last season.) The IceMen will also play 5 Sunday afternoon games. The weekday slate includes 5 Wednesday games, plus 1 game each on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. The lone Monday game, however, is not a “typical” Monday, in that it is on New Year’s Eve.
• The season’s longest homestand will feature 6 games over 15 calendar days during the holidays, from December 21 through January 4. The longest road trip for the IceMen will be around Thanksgiving, with 5 games in a 10-day span from November 21-30. (The Thanksgiving trip should remain a fixture of the schedule in the future, due to the annual Shrine Circus always taking over the Ford Center during that weekend.)
• The IceMen will play 3 games in 3 days on 6 different occasions (down from 9 last season), along with 19 additional back-to-backs. Evansville will face 4 instances of 4 games in 5 days.
• Perhaps the two most critical stretches of the season will both come before the All-Star break. Of the team’s first 13 games, 9 are at home – and all 4 road games are short trips within the division. Then in the month prior to the mid-season classic, the IceMen play 11 of 14 at the Ford Center. Things get considerably more difficult after the break, with 18 of the team’s final 29 games on the road – including a pair of lengthy trips to visit South Division teams.
Whether a “first” or a “last” or an “only” or something else that’s noteworthy, here are a bunch of IceMen items to consider marking on your calendars, listed in chronological order…
• Sat. Oct. 13: A Saturday home game against the Fort Wayne Komets, and it’s the home opener and season opener as well. Need we say more? (Okay, fine, we will.) The Komets don’t come to Evansville again until the 21st home game of the season, on January 9th. So make sure to get your IceMen/Komets fix on Opening Night!
• Fri. Oct. 19: The second home game of the season, and our first look at the Trenton Titans.
• Sat. Oct. 20: It’s the season’s first road game, and it’s at Fort Wayne on a Saturday. Road trip, anyone?
• Wed. Oct. 24: The Gwinnett Gladiators visit Evansville for the first time. If you can’t do a Wednesday, you’re in luck – the Gladiators will be back again on Sunday the 28th.
• Fri. Oct. 26: A new rivalry begins, as the Kalamazoo Wings make their Evansville debut.
• Sat. Oct. 27: Another ideal Saturday road trip for fans, as the IceMen visit Kalamazoo for the first time to play the back half of a home-and-home. It will also be the K-Wings’ annual “Orange Ice” game for Halloween. Yes, the game will actually be played on orange ice!
• Fri. Nov. 2: The Wheeling Nailers make their only trip to Evansville this season.
• Sat. Nov. 3: The IceMen travel to Toledo to take on the Walleye for the first time ever. If you want to visit Toledo at some point this season, this would be a good time to do so – it’s a Saturday, and the weather should still be fairly cooperative in early November.
• Tue. Nov. 6: It’s Evansville’s 2nd Annual Education Day Game, as the Greenville Road Warriors make their Ford Center debut in a special 9:45 AM game. And if you can’t make it, the teams will meet again on Wednesday the 7th with the usual 7:15 PM start time. It’s the only time all season that the IceMen play the same team on consecutive days at home.
• Sat. Nov. 10: The South Carolina Stingrays visit Evansville for the only time this season.
• Sat. Nov. 17: Another Saturday road game against the Komets. You might want to go on and plan your visit to Memorial Coliseum for this one, because the IceMen and Komets will not meet again – in Evansville OR Fort Wayne – until January.
• Sun. Nov. 18: Evansville welcomes the Reading Royals for the first time, and it’s also the last home game before the season-long 5-game Thanksgiving road trip.
• Sat. Dec. 1: Kalamazoo visits for the first Evansville home game in 13 calendar days, otherwise known as “an eternity” to any true IceMen Maniac. (This instance is just the first of THREE agonizing 13-day absences from the Ford Center this season.)
• Sun. Dec. 2: The Walleye come to town for the first time. Time to go ice fishing!
• Sat. Dec. 8: With the IceMen and Cyclones having already met in Cincinnati 4 times, the Cyclones finally make their Evansville debut.
• Fri. Dec. 14 to Sun. Dec. 16: If a trip to the Great Lakes in December sounds like fun to you, (A) what the heck is wrong with you?, and (B) this weekend is perfect for you! The IceMen visit Kalamazoo on Friday night, Toledo on Saturday night, and Wheeling on Sunday afternoon.
• Fri. Dec. 21: The Trenton Titans make their second and final appearance in Evansville this season, as the IceMen kick off the season-long 6-game holiday homestand. It’s also the end of another seemingly-endless 13-day stretch between home games.
• Sat. Dec. 22: The K-Wings pay another visit to Evansville for the last IceMen home game before Christmas. Nothing puts you in the holiday spirit like a nice divisional rivalry game, right?
• Fri. Dec. 28: The homestand continues with our first look at the Elmira Jackals.
• Sat. Dec. 29: We must’ve been good this year, because Santa Claus gave us a Saturday home game against the Cyclones in the midst of the homestand. By this point in the season, a Saturday against Cincy should be appointment hockey, just like a Saturday against Fort Wayne. Unfortunately, it also happens to be the LAST Saturday home game against the Cyclones.
• Mon. Dec. 31: Ring in the New Year with the IceMen, as the Gwinnett Gladiators hit the Ford Center ice for the third and final time this season.
• Fri. Jan. 4: Break out your Mickey Mouse ears, because the 6-game homestand concludes when Orlando Solar Bears make their only visit to Evansville this season.
• Sat. Jan. 5: The season reaches its midway point (Game #36) as the IceMen visit Kalamazoo on a Saturday for the last time this season.
• Sun. Jan. 6: The second half of the season begins with a home game against the Cyclones.
• Wed. Jan. 9: Okay, so it’s a Wednesday, and the holidays just came and went, and you’re probably broke at this point – both financially and in the New Year’s Resolution department. But it’s the KOMETS, at the Ford Center for the first time since Opening Night. And it’s actually the first of back-to-back Wednesday home games against Fort Wayne, as the Komets come to town again on the 16th after the IceMen squeeze in a weekend double-header at Elmira.
• Fri. Jan. 18: A weekend date with Kalamazoo on home ice. ‘Nuff said.
• Sat. Jan. 19: The Walleye visit the Ford Center for the last IceMen game before the All-Star break.
• Wed. Jan. 23: The ECHL All-Star Game, hosted by the Colorado Eagles.
• Sat. Jan. 26: After the home opener, this is the only time the Komets come to Evansville on a Saturday this season. After 104 (!!!) calendar days without a Saturday home game against the Komets, it’s a pretty safe bet that the Ford Center will be packed for this one!
• Fri. Feb. 1: See January 18, but change “Kalamazoo” to “Cincinnati.”
• Sat. Feb. 2: The Elmira Jackals visit Evansville for the second and final time this season.
• Fri. Feb. 8 & Sat. Feb. 9: If you’re sick of winter and in need of some warmer weather, head south for some hockey. The IceMen visit South Carolina on Friday, then Gwinnett (near Atlanta) on Saturday.
• Fri. Feb. 15: It’s the fifth and final time the Komets come to Evansville this season. Until the playoffs, at least!
• Sat. Feb. 16: Completing the home-and-home, the IceMen visit Fort Wayne on a Saturday for the last time this season.
• Wed. Feb. 20: It’s almost time for the Daytona 500 (Sun. Feb. 24), but the big race won’t be the only exciting thing happening in the Sunshine State in late February. The IceMen play the Orlando Solar Bears on Wednesday, followed by a pair of games against the defending ECHL champion Florida Everblades on Friday and Saturday. Sounds like a great idea for a hockey-filled vacation!
• Thu. Feb. 28: The only Thursday home game of the season will be Toledo’s last visit to Evansville. It’s also the merciful end of the third and final 13-day break between IceMen home games this season.
• Sun. Mar. 3: The Cyclones come to Evansville for the final time, with a special 7:15 PM start time.
• Sat. Mar. 9: Believe it or not, this is the first time the IceMen travel to Cincinnati on a Saturday. Time to invade the US Bank Arena and show the “Cyc Ward” how we do things Maniac style!
• Fri. Mar. 15: The Greenville Road Warriors make their third and final appearance in Evansville.
• Sat. Mar. 16: The 36-game home schedule nears its end with Home Game #34, a Saturday against Kalamazoo. Sounds like a good night for a big crowd.
• Sun. Mar. 17: You’ve always wanted to spend St. Patty’s Day in Fort Wayne, right? Right? Well, even if that’s not the case, you should want to do so this year. It’s the final regular-season meeting between the IceMen and Komets.
• Fri. Mar. 22: It’s Home Game #35, with the Reading Royals providing the opposition in their second and final visit to Evansville.
• Sat. Mar. 23: The home schedule sadly concludes with a good one – a Saturday clash with the K-Wings. The IceMen then visit Kalamazoo on the 27th.
• Fri. Mar. 29 & Sat. Mar. 30: The regular season ends with back-to-back games in Cincinnati against the Cyclones. With playoff qualifying or seeding possibly on the line, another road trip to the Queen City sounds like a pretty good idea!
CLICK HERE to discuss possible road trips with other fans!