WHL releases regular season schedule

Kootenay opens new calendar on home ice at Western Financial Place.

The Kootenay Ice will kick off their 2013/14 season at Western Financial Place on Friday, Sept. 20th, 2013, with a home and home series against the Red Deer Rebels.

The WHL released the full regular season schedule on Wednesday that includes 36 home and away games for every club across the league.

It’s a pretty routine schedule for the club, however, there a change from previous years as the whole season was set up through a computer program, rather than a room of league executives hashing it out, said Ice GM Jeff Chynoweth.

“We would meet in June, usually right after Father’s Day, we would sit in a room and we’d go around—it was actually quite an archaic process for a league that’s so advanced,” said Chynoweth. “This has been on the table for a number of years and it’s the first year that it came together.

“It’s a company that does the NHL schedule as well, and a number of other leagues, so obviously, they’re familiar with hockey and I think that—to me—is the biggest thing that’s different.”

There are a few minor differences from last year, such as fewer mid-week games on home ice. Over the season, there will be five games on a Tuesday night, one game on a Wednesday night and five Sunday games. The rest of the home dates are on Friday (14) and Saturday (11).

Kootenay’s first major road trip is a jaunt up to Edmonton for a pair of back-to-back games with the Oil Kings near the end of October.

The Ice will be busy from the end of October into the first two weeks of December, with 21 games over a course of 46 days.

“That’s a lot of hockey when you’re travelling, going out to B.C., going out to Saskatchewan—there is some travel there.”

Looking at the breakdown, the Ice will play the Central Division teams 34 times, going up against Calgary and Red Deer a total of eight times—half at home, half on the road.

Kootenay faces off against Edmonton, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge six times each,  splitting down the middle for home and road appearances.

The Ice meet Brandon, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Regina, Saskatoon and Swift Current four times each, twice at home and one the road.

The team will hit the road for a swing through the B.C. Division, playing Victoria, Kamloops, Prince George, Kelowna, Vancouver and Prince George once.

Most of the U.S. Division will come up to Western Financial Place, with Tri-City, Portland, Everett and Seattle making the trip to Cranbrook, however, the Ice will meet Spokane five times—three times at home and twice on the road.

Playoffs will begin on Friday, March 21st, 2014.

NOTES: The Kootenay Ice will make an announcement on Thursday, which is likely to indroduce a new assistant coach….The NHL Draft begins on Sunday, and Cranbrook native Ben Betker is listed 147th on the  final NHL’s Central Scouting list