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That stretch will present a challenge for coach Jeff Daniels, who will have to balance the desire to keep his team ready yet fresh during what will basically amount to a month-long training camp. After they finally resume their schedule with two consecutive games against the Wild, the team will depart for a six-game, nine-day road swing that will be played out in a single trip - the longest in team history in terms of games played and days away from home.
The Checkers do have a nine-game road swing in late February and early March, though it will be made up of four separate trips. The team's longest home stand is a 10-game stretch from Nov. 30 through Dec. 21.
HURRICANES AND BOBCATSFollowing up on last season's successful debut for the Checkers at the home of their NHL affiliate, the team will host the Abbotsford Heat, affiliate of the Calgary Flames, at PNC Arena for games on Friday, Feb. 14, at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, Feb. 16 at 1:30 p.m. The events come in the middle of the break in the NHL schedule that will allow players to represent their countries at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Most details on the game will be announced at a later date, but the Checkers are providing free transportation to and from Raleigh for full season ticket holders. On Jan. 6 of last season, Charlotte defeated Norfolk by a 3-1 score in the first-ever AHL game in Raleigh, a day that coincided with the end of the NHL's lockout.
The schedule also features two doubleheader games with the Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena on Saturday, Dec. 21 and Saturday, Jan. 18. Both games will be 12 p.m. starts for Charlotte with the NBA club taking the court those nights.
THREE-IN-THREESThough a grueling and inevitable part of any AHL schedule, the Checkers will receive a break in terms of having to play three games in three nights next season. They are scheduled to do so just four times, down from seven last season and eight in each of the team's previous two campaigns. Adding to that benefit, two instances will be played entirely at home – one in mid-December against Norfolk and Toronto and another in mid-January against Texas and Norfolk.
OPPONENT BREAKDOWNDespite moving to the new West Division for the coming season, the Checkers will not see a dramatic shift in how often they play each opponent, though there are certainly a few changes.
Abbotsford, the primary concern surrounding the new divisional groupings given the teams' opposite locations on the continent, appears on the schedule just four times, with Charlotte again making just one trip out west. Those games will be made up by more match-ups against Oklahoma City, who the Checkers face 12 times, tying the most meetings against any single opponent in team history (Norfolk in 2010-11). The next-most-frequent opponents are San Antonio, Texas, Rockford and Norfolk with eight meetings apiece.
The Checkers will face the remaining eight opponents on their schedule four times each, including first-ever meetings against Iowa and Toronto. As in years past, Charlotte will not face Western Conference rivals Hamilton and Rochester, nor will they play the new Utica franchise that just moved from Peoria. Hershey, who the Checkers did not face last season, is back on the schedule as one of two Eastern Conference opponents (Norfolk).