Full Breakdown: 2012-13 Schedule

The assortment of opponents is the same as last season, but the number of games against each foe will differ in the newly released Lake Erie Monsters schedule. The 76-game marathon for the upcoming 2012-13 season is laid out, and undoubtedly yields a few highlights, and like any schedule, a few quirks as well.

Oklahoma City, whose contingent of quality Edmonton Oilers prospects figures to keep the team in the upper echelon of the Western Conference, is first-up on the Monsters schedule. October 12, 2012 will mark the fifth time in Monsters history that the club has opened the season on Quicken Loans Arena ice (2009-10 was the only season the Monsters opened on the road), and the team carries a 2-2-0-0 record all-time home season openers. And not only do the Monsters open the season against the Barons; they’ll be done with the four-game season series against Oklahoma City by the time the season is 11 days old. The only home games the Monsters have against Oklahoma City are the first two games on the schedule, so Monsters fans wanting to see what should be a very solid group of NHL hopefuls on the Barons side won’t want to miss the opening weekend. The Monsters and Barons play twice more over the following 10 days to conclude the season series.

The club that prevailed over the Barons in last season’s Western Conference Final- the Toronto Marlies- is also a part of the Monsters opening weekend. After games on consecutive days against Oklahoma City, the Monsters will venture north of the border for the first of eight games this season- down from 10 games- against Toronto. The Sunday outing will conclude the first of eight Monsters “three-in-threes” this season; a number that is up from six a season ago.

On the topic of three-game-in-three-nights stretches, the Monsters have one three-in-three that’s different from any they had a season ago; between February 21-23, 2013, the Monsters will play three-in-three, with all three games at The Q. Conversely, the Monsters have three three-in-three’s that are entirely on the road; two of which involve three cities in three nights. Last season, the Monsters carried an impressive 8-6-2-2 mark in games that were part of three-in-three stretches.

Last season, the Monsters never had more than five consecutive home games, but this season the team will actually play eight straight home games between February 21 and March 7, 2013. On the flipside, the longest time away from The Q will be a seven-game stretch in the early half of November. The Monsters head to Peoria for a game on the first of November, and won’t play another home game after that until they welcome the Grand Rapids Griffins to Cleveland on November 16.

Speaking of the Griffins, they’re always going to be a geographical rival for the Monsters, and will be on the schedule six times again this season, but the Monsters and Griffins will no longer be divisional opponents. After some offseason realignment, the Griffins are situated in the Midwest Division with Chicago, Milwaukee, Peoria, and Rockford. Charlotte joins Houston, Oklahoma, San Antonio, and Texas in the newly named South Division. Back in the North Division fold is Abbotsford, who joins the Monsters, Hamilton, Rochester, and Toronto, and with the change comes an additional trip to British Columbia to play the Heat. The Monsters games against Abbotsford increase from four last season to eight this season.

As for battles against Eastern Conference opponents: the Monsters will see the Hershey Bears and Syracuse Crunch again this season, but will play Syracuse twice (Once home, once away) instead of four times, which was the total last season. Syracuse is the only team on the Monsters schedule who will have a new affiliation this season; the Crunch is now the top affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning after spending two seasons feeding the Anaheim Ducks. Tampa Bay’s last affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals, won the Calder Cup last season as part of the Lightning family.

After last season’s playoff run went down to the wire with four consecutive home games to conclude the season, the Monsters finish this season with three games at The Q, putting them in position for a strong finish. The regular season ends after April 20’s game against Grand Rapids.

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