According to the Mayans, the last game the Aeros will ever play will be Thursday, Dec. 20 in Cleveland against the Lake Erie Monsters. Also, if you believe all the rumors in the blogosphere, the Aeros last game as an affiliate of the Minnesota Wild will be Sunday, April 21 at Oklahoma City.
All of this information and more can be found here. Today, the AHL released the schedule, and there is definitely some good news and bad news for Aeros fans. Also, here is a link to the printable schedule that says the Aeros are, "On a Mission."
First, some of the good.
The Aeros open the season at home on Oct. 13 against the Charlotte Checkers, and they don't play any road games outside of Texas and Oklahoma until Friday, Nov. 16 at Rockford. In fact, in their first 23 games, the Aeros will be home 14 times, and just ONE of those road games (see above) is not in Texas or Oklahoma.
More good news? The Aeros play just seven three in threes. And they are fairly spread out over the course of the season. More good news on that front is that in five of those situations, the Aeros will be the home team five times. If you've got to finish a three in three, you might as well be at home. The hockey is not always pretty ... but again, better to be at home.
I did not get my wish for 6:05 Saturday games, but a mad shout out goes to the front office for moving all the non-Sunday games to 7:05. Sunday games will remain at 5:05.
The Aeros have a franchise record 10-game homestand from March 23 through April 13, but boy are they going to pay for it. See the next section.
Now for some bad news.
From December 14 through the middle of March, the Aeros are going to collect the miles. If they are not solidly in the playoff picture come mid-December, it's going to take a lot of extra work to make the playoffs. During that time, after all those home and road games in the region, the Aeros will play 24 of their next 36 games on the road. There is even an absolutely insane stretch of games from Jan. 19 through March 10 where the Aeros will play a stretch of 17 of 21 on the road.
More bad news? Well, you can cue the "We're getting ripped off" mantra from season ticket holders now. There is another game in St. Paul, and that is on Nov. 18 against Rockford. Sorry folks, this is the minor leagues, and the Toyota Center is filled with basketball games and concerts on Friday's and Saturday's. Also, the fans up north are really interested in the team for the first time in ... well ... forever. If you want to know your options for that game, here you go.
That also might be the first pro hockey game they get at that building because of continued insane stupidity in the NHL.
That is pretty much it for the bad news, unless I missed something in this quick analysis. The Aeros don't have any three in three during their insane rodeo road trip. Attendance is king, and they finally figured out that playing a lot of home games in late Feb. early March is not a good idea in Houston.
The Aeros play five "early" games this year. Two of them (Games that start before 3 p.m.) are at home, as there is the annual kids game vs. San Antonio on Dec. 11, and they are going to play early on Super Bowl Sunday. That is Feb. 3 vs. Rockford.
As far as division games will go, the Aeros will play 36 of their games against three teams. Six home and six away each against OKC, San Antonio and Texas. They will play Charlotte eight times, four home and four away. The rest of the teams will visit one or two times, including Abbotsford (twice), who moved to another division.
So what are your thoughts on the schedule?
My highlights are the fewer three in threes and moving the Friday and Saturday games to 7:05.
The lowlights for me are all the road games in the middle that will make it difficult to gain ground during that time. I also don't like the fact that they play their last three in three of the season all on the road to close out the slate. That too will make things rough if the Aeros need four or five points just to make the playoffs again.
Here is some more info from the Aeros press release:
2012-13 Schedule Highlights
BUSIEST MONTH – November (13)
LONGEST HOME STAND – 10 games (March 26-April 13)
LONGEST ROAD TRIP – 8 games (Feb. 6-22)
THREE-IN-THREES – Seven
MONTH-BY-MONTH – October (7), November (12), December (13), January (12), February (11), March (11).
HOME DAY-BY-DAY - Monday (1), Tuesday (4), Wednesday (2), Thursday (6), Friday (8), Saturday (7), Sunday (10)