The American Hockey League released its schedule for the 2009-2010 season on Thursday, giving Hartford Wolf Pack fans their first look at how the franchise’s 13th season in Connecticut’s capital will play out.
The Pack open their season on the road this year, with a trip to visit the Binghamton Senators on Saturday, October 3rd. They’ll return to Hartford for their home opener a week later, kicking off the home schedule against the Springfield Falcons on October 10th. It’s the second season running that the Wolf Pack will play their first game at the XL Center against their closest geographic rival.
The highlight of the schedule this year — for Rangers fans anxious for an opportunity to see the prospects in action, anyway — are two games against the Lowell Devils that will be played at the Prudential Center in Newark. The two farm teams will enact their own version of the Battle of the Hudson on Wednesday, January 6 and return four weeks later, on Wednesday, February 3rd.
Another change this season is that the majority of Sunday games will start at 3pm, rather than the more traditional 4pm. All total, ten of the Wolf Pack’s Sunday games will get underway at 3pm, with four of them taking place at the XL Center. An additional Sunday home date, on December 13th, will start at 4pm.
Wolf Pack players don’t get a single Saturday night off all season. They’ll play games on 28 consecutive Saturday nights (16 at home), along with 21 Friday games (11 at home), 17 Sunday games (5 home), and 11 games on Wednesdays (7 home). They’ll also play two Thursday games — both on the road — and a Monday matinÃ©e on President’s Day in Portland. Their busiest month is January, with 15 games, seven of which are on the road.
Speaking of the road, the Wolf Pack’s longest road trip this season will be a very manageable five game span during which only two of the games — against Toronto and Hamilton — are more than a few hours drive from home. The “trip” starts with a game in Lowell on February 28th and ends against nearby Springfield on March 12th. They follow that stretch with their longest homestand of the season, a six game run that starts with a game against the Devils on March 13th and concludes two weeks later when they host their in-state rivals from Bridgeport on March 27th. They then travel to Portland for a single game before playing two more at home. In fact, only four of the Wolf Pack’s final 14 games of the season are away from the friendly confines of the XL Center.
The season finale will be played on Sunday, April 11th, in Bridgeport. That game will be one of ten the Wolf Pack play against the Sound Tigers, which join the Pack in the Atlantic Division for the 2009-2010 season Hartford also face Springfield and Providence ten times over the course of the season, while meeting Worcester and Manchester eight times apiece. The final Atlantic Division squad, the Portland Pirates, will line up against the Wolf Pack just six times. Hartford closes the season with nine straight games (and 15 of their final 16) against divisional foes.
The Wolf Pack will be amongst the teams that welcome Glens Falls back to the AHL when they travel to face the Adirondack Phantoms on Friday, October 23rd. They’ll returned the favor by hosting the Phantom’s on Friday, March 26th. Other out-of-division opponents include Hershey, Wilke Barre-Scranton, Syracuse, Albany, Toronto and Hamilton, each of which will play a pair of games against the Pack, one each home and away. The team will face the Norfolk Admirals four times, including a pair of back-to-back road games on Friday, February 5 and Saturday February 6th.
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