The Fort Wayne Komets, two-time defending champions of the International Hockey League, will open the 2009-10 season Oct. 16 at Dayton, Ohio, against the expansion Gems.
Seven teams will make up the league this season, all playing 76-game schedules. Click here to see the Komets' entire schedule.
Fort Wayne's home opener at Memorial Coliseum will be Oct. 23 against the Bloomington PrairieThunder.
The Komets' trip to Dayton will be their first since 1980, in the original IHL, when the teams skated to a 4-4 tie at Hara Arena. The rivalry between Fort Wayne and Dayton dates back to the 1964-65 season.
Dayton will be Fort Wayne's most frequent opponent this season; they meet 16 times. The Komets will face the Quad City Mallards 14 times, Bloomington and Flint 12 times apiece, and Fort Wayne will play Port Huron and Muskegon 11 times each.
The Komets defeated Muskegon in the Turner Cup Finals last spring.
Most of the games at the Coliseum will take place on weekends: 13 games on Fridays, nine on Saturdays, five on Sundays.
But there will be an unusually high amount of Wednesday night games with eight, and for the Komets it's not an ideal situation since those weekday games have smaller crowds and aren't as lucrative. It was unavoidable because of conflicts at the Coliseum and because having an odd numbers of teams complicated the IHL scheduling process, with at least one team being idle each night.
"Well, we're in a situation where we're kind of handcuffed on some of the dates because of all the events in the building," Komets general manager David Franke said. "This year, we lost two to three weekends because of the girls high school basketball tournament and the NCAA (hockey) tournament, in addition to having to share dates with the Mad Ants and IPFW (basketball teams).
"Add that to all the others events in the building and we have more Wednesday night games than maybe we've ever had. We're not nuts about it, but that's how it worked out. ... We're fortunate to get the dates that we do."
The Komets will play their annual Thanksgiving Night game against Flint and will play host to Bloomington on New Year's Eve.
As for the exhibition schedule, Fort Wayne will play host to Dayton on Oct. 7 and Muskegon on Oct. 9, then play at Muskegon, Mich., on Oct. 10.
- I was happy to see the Gems took my advice and fought to have their season opener at home against the Komets. Fort Wayne fans travel very well for season openers on the road, so I bet several hundred Komets fans will go to the Gems' inaugural game. That could get them excited enough about Hara to come back. But if Fort Wayne were to play in Dayton for their second game, the interest in making the trip would not be the same. Good move by Gems management.
- As I first reported last week, I continue to hear that Jason Muzzatti will be the Generals' coach. (Expect that announcement to come in the next couple of days.) I also hear they have some players inked to agreements. But there will be some shocking news from the organization, if what I've heard from a couple people is true, and that would be the identity of the new general manager. The team could really be going south.