The ECHL announced on Thursday that its 29th season will begin on Friday, Oct. 14 with eight games being played in eight states from Florida to Utah and continues on Saturday, Oct. 16 with 12 more games in 12 states. Opening Weekend concludes on Sunday, Oct. 18 with one game.
Division rivalries are highlighted on Opening Night as six of the eight games on the schedule feature divisional matchups. In the West Division, Utah hosts Idaho while Rapid City entertains Colorado. Midwest Division teams face-off with Quad City hosting Fort Wayne and Indy hosting Cincinnati. A 2016 Kelly Cup Playoffs rematch takes place in Manchester as the Monarchs host East-Division rival Adirondack and South Division opponents Greenville and Florida meet at Germain Arena in Estero, Fla. Other games slated for Oct. 14 have Norfolk hosting Kalamazoo for the first-time ever and Atlanta home against Toledo.
Seven teams open their home schedules on Oct. 15 with a trio of rematches from Opening Night switching venues – Cincinnati entertains Indy, Colorado hosts Rapid City and Fort Wayne is home against Quad City. Also on Saturday, Wheeling opens its 25th season in the ECHL hosting Brampton, Allen entertains Missouri, Reading hosts Elmira and Wichita hosts Tulsa.
Friday, Oct. 21 features five home openers with Brampton hosting Toledo, Elmira entertaining Norfolk, Idaho home against Utah, Kalamazoo hosting Fort Wayne and Tulsa taking on Indy. Five teams host home openers on Oct 22 as Adirondack hosts Manchester, Missouri entertains Indy, Orlando hosts in-state rival Florida, South Carolina opens against Greenville and Toledo is home against Brampton.
The final home openers are slated for Friday, Oct. 28 when Greenville takes on Wichita for the first time in team history and Alaska hosts Rapid City.
Other highlights of the 2016-17 schedule:
* Adirondack hosts Atlanta, Florida and Colorado for the first time while visiting Idaho and Utah.
* Alaska hosting first-time visitors Orlando, Indy and Toledo, and hosting Cincinnati in a rematch of the 2014 Kelly Cup Finals while making its first-ever visits to Fort Wayne, Manchester, Missouri and Tulsa.
* Allen visiting Orlando, Florida and Fort Wayne for the first time in team history.
* Atlanta making its first-ever visits to Adirondack, Allen, Manchester.
* Colorado taking trips to Adirondack and South Carolina.
* In addition to playing Allen for the first time, Florida also welcomes first-time visitors Manchester, Missouri and Utah.
* Idaho hosts Cincinnati in a rematch of the 2010 Kelly Cup Finals, as well as Reading and Wheeling, while paying its first-ever visits to Missouri, Norfolk and Wheeling.
* First-time visitors to Manchester are Alaska, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Florida, Kalamazoo and South Carolina.
* Orlando takes a six-game road trip to Colorado and Alaska.
* Rapid City welcomes Reading and South Carolina for their first-ever visits to South Dakota. * In addition to traveling to Rapid City on its western road trip, Reading also pays visits to Idaho and Colorado.
* Thanksgiving Day sees Atlanta and Fort Wayne host their traditional games, while the ECHL rings in New Year’s Day with games in Alaska, Indy and Tulsa on Sunday, Jan. 1.
Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league that will have 27 teams in 21 states and one Canadian province playing 972 games from Oct. 14, 2016 to April 8, 2017.
The third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League, the ECHL averaged 4,385 fans per game in 2015-16, marking the 12th consecutive season and the 24th time in the last 26 years that the ECHL has averaged over 4,000 fans.
About the ECHL
Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 28 teams in 21 states and one Canadian province for its 28th season in 2015-16. There have been 599 players who have started their career in the ECHL have gone on to play in the National Hockey League, including 30 who made their NHL debuts in the 2015-16 season. The ECHL has affiliations with 25 of the 30 NHL teams in 2015-16, marking the 19th consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at ECHL.com as well as on Twitter and Facebook.