January, oy vey!
Every year when the schedule is released I pour through it to figure out the important dates and check out its quirks. This year one thing leaped off the page, and that's January's travel schedule.
Everett typically has two long road trips every season, one to play the Eastern Conference teams and one to Prince George. The standard template sees the eastern swing happen sometime in October, with the Prince George trip often in February.
Well, this year those two trips are pushed together.
Everett has an unusually late trip out east. It begins just after the year ends, with games running from Jan. 2-10. It's a tougher trip because it's against the Eastern Division this season instead of the Central Division, forcing the Tips to head that much farther east. Then by having it in January instead of October the roads are going to be a lot more snowy.
That's rough enough. But then a little more than a week after the Tips get back from that grueling trip, they have to head out to Prince George, where they play on Jan 21-22. Compounding that trip is that Everett hits Kelowna for two games on the way back, creating a brutal four-in-five.
In total, January sees the Tips play 14 games in 30 days, and 11 of those are on the road. Yikes!
The Tips somewhat make up for it with a heavy home schedule in February. But even though nine of the 13 February games are at home, that's still a case of squeezing 13 games into 26 days.
Anyway, here's some other notes about the schedule:
- We already knew the Tips were playing in Seattle's home opener on Sept. 20. Now we know that's also Everett's season opener, and it's the only game the Tips play on opening weekend.
- The Tips don't play their home opener until two weeks into the season on Oct. 3 against Kelowna.
- Everett always plays 10 games against each U.S. Division team except one, with the Tips facing either Spokane or Tri-City eight times to accommodate Everett playing two extra games against Vancouver (six total). This year it's Spokane that Everett faces just eight times.
- The second half of the season is not loaded with U.S. Division games the way it has been in the past, as Everett will actually play more divisional games during the first half than the second half. Indeed, four of Everett's first six games are against Portland.
- Defending WHL and Memorial Cup champion Edmonton visits Comcast Arena on Nov. 1.
- There's no new year's eve home game this year, as the team will be on the road heading toward Saskatchewan.
- The Tips only have one home-and-home set with Victoria this season instead of two. However, the first time Everett goes to the island the Tips have to play in Kent the next night, so it might as well be a home and home. The only difference is that Everett won't be playing an opponent that had to go through the same ordeal. I'm sure the Tips just love that.
- Four three-in-threes this season, which is a low total.
- The home finale is on March 21 against Victoria on the back end of the ferry home-and-home with the Royals. The season finale is March 22 at Spokane.
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