The Komets' move to the ECHL had a lot to do with rekindling rivalries with nearby teams, and that will start on opening night of the 2012-13 season.
The Komets' 61st season in professional hockey – first in the ECHL – will begin Oct. 12 at Memorial Coliseum against the Kalamazoo Wings. The teams were rivals in other leagues from 1974 to 2009.
Kalamazoo will be the most frequent opponent of the Komets – they meet 15 times – though the Komets will face Evansville 11 times.
Citing travel costs, the Komets and IceMen both left the CHL for the ECHL this month, bringing the ECHL to 23 teams. The Komets won the CHL's Presidents' Cup and will face the reigning ECHL champions, the Florida Everblades, twice – March 8 and 9 at the Coliseum.
"This schedule is very manageable," general manager David Franke said. "I think we've eliminated some really long travel trips. And we've added a lot more regional games with Evansville, Cincinnati, Kalamazoo and Toledo."
Here are some important factors out of the schedule:
- The Komets will be in the Eastern Conference, but divisional alignment hasn't been determined. Based on the Komets' desires and the schedule, expect them to be in the North with Evansville, Cincinnati, Kalamazoo and Toledo. They play those teams 47 out of the 72 games, including 25 at the Coliseum. The most frequent opponent at the Coliseum will be Toledo, there seven times. "We are fortunate to play our regional rivals several times and our fans will see 14 different teams on Coliseum ice this season. It may be our best schedule ever," Komets president Michael Franke said.
- The Komets will fly to Orlando for three games Dec. 7 to 9. The Komets haven't played in Orlando since leaving the original IHL in 1999. The only other trip in which the Komets might fly would be for three games at Colorado, a former CHL foe, on Feb. 6 to 9. Another interesting road trip for fans would be March 1 and 2, when the Komets play at South Carolina.
- The Komets' traditional holiday games remain intact. They play host to Kalamazoo on Thanksgiving for the second time in history, first since 1983. And they host Toledo on New Year's Eve for the ninth time, first since 1975.
- Twenty-six of the Komets' 36 home games are on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
- "Something I really like about this schedule," David Franke said, "is there are (are eight) stretches of three games in three nights, less than usual."
David Franke has made some calls about a possible affiliation with a higher-level team.
Out of the CHL, it sounds as though Rio Grande Valley is folding, but I haven't seen anything official yet. That was just a matter of time.