-- The American Hockey League today released the complete schedule of regular-season games for the 2009-10 season, the league's 74th year of operation. The season, comprising 1,160 games, begins on Fri., Oct. 2 and concludes on Sun., Apr. 11. Each of the league's 29 clubs will play 80 games, 40 at home and 40 on the road.
With a divisional format again in place for the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs, nearly two-thirds of this year's schedule (758 of 1,160) will feature games between division rivals. The top four teams in each division will qualify for the 2010 postseason, with one possible exception: if the fifth-place team in the Atlantic Division finishes with more points than the fourth-place team in the East Division, it would cross over and compete in the East Division playoffs.
The AHL's regular season opens with two games on Oct. 2, including a rematch of last year's Western Conference championship series between the Manitoba Moose and the Houston Aeros at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. That night also sees the debut of the Texas Stars, the new top affiliate of the NHL's Dallas Stars
, as they visit the San Antonio Rampage.
Texas and San Antonio meet again on Oct. 3 in suburban Austin for the first-ever game at the Cedar Park Center, one of 12 games on tap for the opening Saturday of the season. Also that night, the Adirondack Phantoms hit the ice in Glens Falls, N.Y., for the first time when they open their 2009-10 schedule against the Worcester Sharks, and the Hershey Bears begin defense of their 2009 Calder Cup championship at home against the Norfolk Admirals.
The AHL's other new entry for 2009-10, the Abbotsford Heat, kicks off its inaugural season as the top development club of the NHL's Calgary Flames
on Oct. 9 when San Antonio visits the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.
The Portland Pirates and the city of Portland, Maine, will host the 2010 Time Warner Cable AHL All-Star Classic at the Cumberland County Civic Center, Jan. 18-19.
In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, executives and broadcasters of all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 84 percent of today's NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the eighth year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2008-09.
The entire 2009-10 AHL regular season schedule is available for viewing at theahl.com.