SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League today released the complete schedule of regular-season games for the 2005-06 season, the league’s 70th year of operation. The season, comprising 1,080 games, begins on Wed., Oct. 5 and concludes on Sun., Apr. 16. Each of the league’s 27 clubs will play 80 games, 40 at home and 40 on the road.
With a divisional format again in place for the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs, nearly two-thirds of this year’s schedule (702 of 1,080) will feature games between division rivals.
For the sixth year in a row, the AHL’s regular season opens with a game at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza, as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins play host to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Oct. 5 at 7:05 p.m. ET. The start of the season was originally set for Oct. 12, but was moved up a week by the AHL to coincide with the beginning of the National Hockey League’s 2005-06 season.
The AHL features four new teams for 2005-06. The Iowa Stars open their inaugural season on Oct. 6 when they host the Peoria Rivermen at the Wells Fargo Arena. On Oct. 7, the Rivermen play their first home game in the AHL against the Manitoba Moose, while the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights hit the ice for the first time when they host the reigning Western Conference champion Chicago Wolves. The Toronto Marlies also make their debut on Oct. 7 with a game in Rochester, as the Americans kick off their 50th-anniversary season; the Marlies’ home opener at Ricoh Coliseum is scheduled for Oct. 12 against Syracuse.
The Philadelphia Phantoms begin defense of their 2005 Calder Cup championship on Sat., Oct. 8, when they host the East Division rival Binghamton Senators at the Wachovia Center, home of the parent Philadelphia Flyers.
The Manitoba Moose and the city of Winnipeg will host the 2006 AHL All-Star Classic at the MTS Centre, Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.
In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 80 percent of NHL players in 2003-04 were AHL graduates, and in 2004-05, more than 7.1 million fans – an all-time league record – attended AHL games across North America.