WICHITA, KS – The Wichita Thunder announced their 2016-17 regular-season schedule on Thursday. This is the second straight year the schedule has come out in late April, which is the earliest among the minor pro hockey leagues.

The ECHL’s 29th season will open on Friday, October 14 with eight games on the slate, including six division matchups. The next night features 12 matchups, including several division matchups.

There is no change to the division and conference layout and playoff format for next season, even with Evansville leaving the fold. Wichita will remain in the Central Division with the Tulsa Oilers, Missouri Mavericks and Allen Americans.

The only new opponent coming to INTRUST Bank Arena next season is the Toledo Walleye. Wichita will play every western conference playoff team except Idaho and will play two eastern conference playoff teams (South Carolina and Atlanta). The schedule also includes a trip to the southeast in October for games at South Carolina, Atlanta and Greenville.  This year’s schedule is a marginally tougher than last years, with opponents sporting a win percentage of .572, compared to .567 last season.

Wichita will open the 2016-17 schedule on Saturday, October 15 at home against the Tulsa Oilers. Division rivals Tulsa, Allen and Missouri make up 42 of the 72 games. 26 of the team’s 36 home dates will be played on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

Here is a breakdown of the opponents on the Thunder’s schedule:
Alaska: 3 (3H, 0A)
Allen: 14 (7H, 7A)
Atlanta: 1 (0H, 1A)
Cincinnati: 3 (1H, 2A)
Colorado: 5 (3H, 2A)
Fort Wayne: 2 (1H, 1A)
Greenville: 2 (0H, 2A)
Indy: 1 (0H, 1A)
Missouri: 14 (6H, 8A)
Quad City: 4 (2H, 2A)
Rapid City: 3 (1H, 2A)
Toledo: 2 (2H, 0A)
South Carolina: 1 (0H, 1A)
Tulsa: 14 (7H, 7A)
Utah: 3 (2H, 1A)

Here is a breakdown of games by day:
Monday: 0
Tuesday: 6 (3H, 3A)
Wednesday: 11 (7H, 4A)
Thursday: 0
Friday: 23 (12H, 11A)
Saturday: 21 (9H, 12A)
Sunday: 11 (5H, 6A)

The Thunder play 14 games during the month of February, followed by 13 in January and 11 each in November and December. Wichita will play six games in nine days around the Thanksgiving holiday, nine 3-in-3’s and 11 games in 16 nights to close out the season.

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