While the eyes of the FHL and its fans were focused on Mentor, Ohio this morning with the announcement that the Mentor Ice Breakers would be the league’s sixth team for this season, the FHL also dropped its 2018-19 schedule Monday afternoon.
The league kicks-off its 9th season on October 26, a mere 95 days away, with all six teams in action on opening night.
That opening night schedule features Port Huron at Carolina, Watertown at Mentor, and Elmira at Danville, with each of those matchups being a two-game series on opening weekend.
Other home-openers on the schedule include Watertown hosting Port Huron on November 2, Port Huron hosting Elmira on November 9, and Elmira playing host to Carolina on November 16. The Elmira home opener is last on the schedule to allow for extra time to complete needed repairs and updates to First Arena.
Teams are scheduled to play a full slate of 58 games this season, up from the scheduled 56 last year, and according to team sites, it will not be a balanced home-away split. There are scheduled to be 174 games total this FHL season.
“I think we are all excited that we finally have a schedule and our fans can plan their fall, winter and spring,” Carolina Thunderbirds GM Scott Brand said on the team site. “We worked hard to provide game dates that will enable our fans to enjoy Thunderbirds hockey on Fridays and Saturdays. We congratulate the league on putting this schedule together, especially working with the addition of two new markets.”
The uneven split in home games also includes having a pair of neutral site games on the schedule for this season, both in Battle Creek, Michigan, which has been hotly rumored to be one of the expansion teams coming to the FHL in 2019.
The neutral site games are on Friday, February 1, with Carolina taking on Danville and the Dashers acting as the home team, the other will be on Saturday, March 16 when Danville takes on Port Huron. As a result, Danville will play just 27 true home tilts at Palmer Arena, tied with Port Huron for fewest in the league.
Of note, the Thunderbirds will play the most home games in the FHL this season, with a whopping 32 of their 58 games on home ice, meaning they have just 26 road games this year compared to 29 in a balanced schedule. They also will have a pair of six-game homestands on the season.
Expansion Elmira is scheduled to play 30 home games this season at First Arena, while expansion Mentor will play 28 home games. Elmira will be the beneficiary of starting its home slate late with its first six games on the road, meaning over the final 52 games, 30 will be home compared to just 22 on the road, including a whopping 9-game home stretch from late February into early March, the longest home-stand in the league this season.
Watertown is also scheduled for 28 home games this season at the Watertown Civic Arena.
Port Huron will play the fewest actual home games this season (provided you count Danville’s pair in Batte Creek) with 27 tilts scheduled for McMorran Arena, and then 31 games on the road.
Now that the schedule is out, what game are you looking forward to most?