The United States Hockey League announced Friday that changes would be made to the 2013-14 preseason schedule, including the deferment of the traditional USHL Fall Classic.
The 2013-14 regular season is tentatively set to begin Sept. 20, which would be the earliest start in the league's 11-year history. The change, which was determined by the USHL Board principally in the interest of player safety, academics and on-ice development during its midwinter meetings in Michigan, will reduce the need for regular-season midweek games and travel in 2013-14.
The revised schedule will reduce midweek travel and missed school days by USHL players. The earlier start date forced a scheduling conflict with the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa, which has hosted the USHL Fall Classic the past six seasons. Instead of seeking a one-year interim site for the event, the league opted to create a bid opportunity to expand the game's format in 2014-15.
"By no means are we leaving the Fall Classic behind," USHL commissioner Skip Prince said in a statement. "It has become an important part of the USHL culture, and evolved into the largest single gathering place for elite players, fans, NHL and NCAA scouts in the world. The hiatus we're taking here is to make it even bigger and better."
The league has begun preparations to schedule regional preseason events in September in an attempt to provide game competition for teams and scouting opportunities for NHL and NCAA personnel. According to Prince, dates and locations of those preseason events will be announced at a later time. The league has every intention, however, to place a regional event in Sioux City.
"The Musketeers and Sioux City have been the heart of the USHL Fall Classic and largely responsible for its success and growth," Prince said. "We count them as friends and partners and want to make sure we enjoy a strong preseason event there."