The 2012-13 BCHL schedule has been released and the Spruce Kings games have been posted on the team's website (click here). This is a very favourable schedule when everything is taken into consideration.
The Spruce Kings will have a 56 game regular season spread out over six months. There is a healthy compliment of prime nights on the list with 20 Friday night games (10 home and 10 away) and 22 Saturday night games (11 home and 11 away). As expected there are a total of eight Sunday games (3 home and 5 away), three Thursday games (all at home) and one Wednesday night game (away).
The month to month breakdown should work to the Spruce Kings favour with less than ten games in all but the month of January. With the exception of the final four regular season games on home ice in March, December is the month with the fewest games at six (3 home and 3 away).
Technically the longest roadtrip is eight games but those span a total of 30 days from the three games before the Christmas break to the five in two weeks to start the New Year. The longest home stretch is six games in three weeks from November 23rd to December 9th. No month has more than five home games or less than three. Also the Spruce Kings play no more than three games on back to back nights before getting at least four days off. I really think this makes for a nicely balanced season schedule.
The Spruce Kings open at home against the Trail Smoke Eaters on September 14th followed by the one and only visit of the season from the defending RBC Royal Bank Cup Champion Penticton Vees on Saturday September 15th. Prince George hockey fans will only have one chance to see teams from the Interior Conference.
The Merritt Centennials come North on September 22nd (note the special start time of 7:30pm). Sporting a new name for their franchise, the West Kelowna Warriors will be in Prince George on October 27th. It will be over four months before the other two Interior Conference teams make their lone trip to the Castle with the Vernon Vipers arriving March 1st and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in for the final game of the regular season on March 9th.
The full interlock schedule allows local hockey fans to see the Island Division teams in the Castle starting with the battle of the BCHL Kings on October 12th versus Powell River. The Alberni Valley Bulldogs also show up in October on the 26th, the Victoria Grizzlies will be the only Island Division team in November and the only game on Remembrance Day weekend on November 10th. The Cowichan Valley Capitals make their lone stop in the Castle on December 7th while the Nanaimo Clippers will wait until February 1st to pay a visit.
Rivalries in the Mainland Division will heat up quickly against the Langley Rivermen, Chilliwack Chiefs, Coquitlam Express and Surrey Eagles. Interesting configuration of games with four of five road games from October 6th to November 2nd and then four of five home games from February 14th to March 3rd against the Langley Rivermen.
Other double headers or quick series see the Spruce Kings play six of their eight games against the Chilliwack Chiefs in a seven week span from January 11th to February 23rd. The Chiefs will play two double headers in the Castle - November 29th and 30th and then again January 18th and 19th. The Coquitlam Express will also play their allotment of games in Prince George in a pair of double headers - December 8th and 9th and January 26th and 27th. The Surrey Eagles play one double header (November 23rd and 24th) and a pair of singles (October 13th and January 31st) in the Castle.
My Games of Note:
Of course the home opener is always the first game of note for everyone, but in this case it is the home opening weekend and the Penticton Vees on Saturday night that I have highlighted. I remind you of March 10, 2012 for my reasoning on this selection. The Battle of the Kings (October 12th) is always a favourite, it just has something to do with the team's names. It seems the Spruce Kings have always had a great rivalry against the Nanaimo Clippers and this year they come to Prince George on February 1st.
Although the rivalries with teams in the Interior Conference just wont have the same feeling this season, there is one that continues on and is sure to evoke enough interest to make these eight games exciting. Although we have to wait until near the middle of the season, the Spruce Kings will be ready for their first meeting (a double header at that) with the Chilliwack Chiefs on November 29th and 30th.
The toughest BCHL arena to play in might be the home of the Surrey Eagles, the Spruce Kings will get their first taste of the Olympic ice surface on October 5th and a week later (October 13th) will host the Eagles. Fans of the Spruce Kings will have to go without seeing the team in person for a month making the December 9th game vs the Coquitlam Express a game of note before the Christmas break. On the other side of that break will be the eventual return to home ice with another classic in the making double header against the Chilliwack Chiefs January 18th and 19th.
I'm sure there are a few other games that will jump off the schedule for you, but no matter what I just hope for an entertaining season that picks up where last year left off. The corporate and fan support was nothing short of amazing and the players fed off the energy of the packed Coliseum and that is really what we all want to experience again this season.
CLICK HERE to download a PDF copy of the Spruce Kings schedule.