The countdown is on for First Faceoff 2015. After missing the Kelly Cup Playoffs for just the second time in club history, the Cyclones will spend the next six months reloading in preparation for the upcoming season. Our first piece of off-season news will be the regular season schedule that was released Monday afternoon. The annual First Faceoff will take place on October 17th, 2015 as the Cyclones will welcome in the reigning Brabham Cup Champion Toledo Walleye into U.S. Bank Arena. This will be a “new era” year for the Cyclones as 2015-2016 will mark their first year in the ECHL’s Western Conference after being in the Eastern Conference since the club returned from suspension in 2006-2007. In case you missed it, Cincinnati will be in the Western Conference’s Midwest Division with the Quad City Mallards, Fort Wayne Komets, Indy Fuel, and Evansville IceMen.
Several new teams will appear on the schedule next season including the Missouri Mavericks, Wichita Thunder, Norfolk Admirals and Allen Americans. But, the highlights will be those making their first ever visit to Downtown Cincinnati. Those would include newly found division rival, Quad City, along with the Adirondack Thunder, and Tulsa Oilers. Of the 36 home games, Cincinnati fans are looking forward most to the game that takes place on November 17th, 2015 when the Alaska Aces return to U.S. Bank Arena for the first time since that horrific event in June of 2014 when the Aces captured the Kelly Cup in 6 games against Cincinnati (on my birthday nonetheless). My birthday is June 9th. When did the Aces take the Kelly Cup from Cincinnati on Cincinnati ice? June. Freaking. 9th.
Fort Wayne will visit Downtown Cincinnati the most. The Komets will come to town seven times throughout the course of the season. However, Quad City and Indy will be the teams the Cyclones will meet more than anybody else. They’ll see the Mallards and Fuel a grand total of 11 times each throughout the campaign.
Now, let’s break it all down…
vs Indy – 11 games total (6 home, 5 away)
vs Quad City – 11 games total (5 home, 6 away)
vs Fort Wayne – 10 games total (7 home, 3 away)
vs Evansville – 9 games total (4 home, 5 away)
vs Toledo – 5 games total (4 home, 1 away)
vs Wheeling – 4 games total (3 home, 1 away)
vs Kalamazoo – 4 games total (2 home, 2 away)
vs Allen – 3 games total (0 home, 3 away)
vs Gwinnett – 2 games total (1 home, 1 away)
vs Missouri – 2 games total (0 home, 2 away)
vs Norfolk – 2 games total (0 home, 2 away)
vs Greenville – 2 games total (0 home, 2 away)
vs South Carolina – 2 games total (0 home, 2 away)
vs Alaska – 1 game total (1 home, 0 away)
vs Adirondack – 1 game total (1 home, 0 away)
vs Orlando – 1 game total (1 home, 0 away)
vs Tulsa – 1 game total (1 home, 0 away)
vs Wichita – 1 game total (0 home, 1 away)
Sunday – 6 games total (0 home, 6 away)
Monday – 1 game total (0 home, 1 away)
Tuesday – 6 games total (5 home, 1 away)
Wednesday – 9 games total (8 home, 1 away)
Thursday – 6 games total (3 home, 3 away)
Friday – 20 games total (9 home, 11 away)
Saturday – 24 games total (11 home, 13 away)
Although the playoffs will be the top eight teams in each conference, divisional games are going to have major effect on the Cyclones next season. Of the 72 game schedule, 41 are against Midwest Division opponents.
The Clones are definitely at an advantage to start the season. Of the first 15 games, 11 of them will be played on home ice. As bad as last season went, the Cyclones played pretty well on home ice. The longest stretch on the road will take place from December 1st-December 20th for a season-high eight game road trip.