Stockton Heat Unveil 2015-16 Schedule

The brave new world of the American Hockey League was finally revealed today, as the league officially released their 2015-16 schedule – featuring 68-game schedules for each of the five California-based teams.

As one of them, the Calgary Flames’ AHL affiliate – the Stockton Heat – will play 68 games during their inaugural season. And they’ll do so by only playing against 9 of the AHL’s other 29 teams.

Here’s how the schedule shakes down:

  • 12 games against the Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton)
  • 2 games against the Iowa Wild (Minnesota)
  • 4 games against the Manitoba Moose (Winnipeg)
  • 12 games against the Ontario Reign (Los Angeles)
  • 2 games against the Rockford Ice Hogs (Chicago)
  • 6 games against the San Antonio Rampage (Colorado)
  • 12 games against the San Diego Gulls (Anaheim)
  • 12 games against the San Jose Barracuda (San Jose)
  • 6 games against the Texas Stars (Dallas)

So…yeah.

The upside is the Stockton schedule is really, really lean. There are tons of days off. For an example, October sees them play games on October 10, 15, 21, 24, 30 and 31. That’s it. They play clusters of back-to-back games, but that minimizes time on the road and maximizes time for practice and development. And it makes it potentially easy to bring a player up to Calgary quickly without them missing a ton of games (unless the player is called up right before a cluster of games).

For those of you who, like me, were hoping to jet down to California for some road games, here’s the best stretches to try for:

  • October 31 & 31 in San Diego
  • February 5 in San Diego and February 6 in Bakersfield
  • March 4 & 5 in San Diego
  • March 25 & 26 in Ontario

On the other hand, my goodness, the Heat have a thin, thin schedule. The reason I like the WHL – for example – as a development league is because young players have to play a lot of different styles of games against a lot of different styles of teams. Playing against 9 other teams rather than against 29 different teams exposes players to a lot narrower scope of situations and styles.

But it does sound a lot cheaper than flying players to the far reaches of the continent for minor league games, so we’ll see how things turn out this year before we judge the approach too harshly.

  • JumpJet

    Wow, so absolutely no games versus the eastern teams? Barring a trip to the left coast, I guess that means this Flames fan living in Toronto won’t be able to catch Poirier, Gillies and the gang up close.

    • piscera.infada

      I read an interview with one of the AHL owners a few years ago, and it pretty well laid out why teams decided to move west. He claimed that the Eastern owners were an old boys club, who wield a ridiculous amount of power over scheduling. This was at the time when the Flames’ farm team was in Abbotsford. In short, when a Western team needed to play Eastern teams, they were always the ones travelling, because the Eastern owners didn’t want to do it.

      As such, you ended up with a situation where you have your development program on the other side of the country in order to have a substantial amount of practice time (this is development after all). Or, you put your team in the West, they’re closer, but you cut down on a great deal of that development time.

      As I understand it, the point of a “West division” in the AHL was an attempt to remedy this.

      That’s not to say it will work. I personally see no issue with the team in Adirondak, and from what I heard, that community backed the entire Flames organization rather quickly once they were moved there. To me, that seemed like a perfect situation, as opposed to some dump in California (by most accounts, I’ve never been there). As mentioned above, the biggest issue with this “plan” is the competition is not very diverse at all. That biggest benefit? A ton of practice time.

      • JumpJet

        Adirondack as a community supported the team, but the arena was an old brick barn (pretty much a dump) and nothing to shout home about. I had the opportunity to go to 4 games there….

        As for the competition, last year even in the East they never played against most of the “Eastern Conference” (e.g. AHL champ-Manchester Monarchs (Kings); only 5 cross-over games against 4 teams), so although a bit reduced this year, not as much as you might think.

        Personally I think the extra practice time, much nicer facility (supposedly the best in the AHL) and better connections with the Flames are just fine.

        Looking forward to the coming year.