New head coach Mike Torchetti will have his hands full with the San Antonio Rampage and the Texas Stars in 2011-12. The AHL schedule matrix was released Thursday, and the Aeros won't even get another crack at the Binghamton Senators unless the two teams meet in the Calder Cup Finals.
There are no Eastern Conference teams on the slate.
The Aeros will play 76 games next season, and 40 of them will be against teams in the newly-aligned West Division. The Aeros will play the Texas Stars and San Antonio Rampage 12 times each, and they will see the Oklahoma City Barons and Abbotsford Heat eight times during the season.
The only new team on the schedule in 2011-12 is the Charlotte Checkers, who have moved to the Western Conference and are a part of the new Midwest Division.
The Aeros will play the Checkers, Chicago Wolves, Milwaukee Admirals, Rockford IceHogs, Peoria Rivermen and Lake Erie Monsters and four times.
Also on the Aeros' schedule next season are the Grand Rapids Griffins, Rochester Americans, Hamilton Bulldogs and Toronto Marlies.
The Griffins will play the Aeros six times, and the Americans, Bulldogs and Marlies twice each.
The complete AHL schedule will be announced early next month, and the Aeros are expected to release the date of their home opener and up to four other guaranteed dates next week.
The bottom line is this is a good schedule as far as cost, travel and developing rivalries are concerned. The bad news? Well ... less variety and fewer games against Chicago and Milwaukee. To me, the only real surprise on the list is the six games against Grand Rapids. Never saw that coming ... I really expected 10 games against OKC and just two against the Griffins, but I will take it.
Here is a breakdown:
Aeros vs. (# of Games)
San Antonio Rampage (12)
Texas Stars (12)
Oklahoma City Barons (8)
Abbotsford Head (8)
Grand Rapids Griffins (6)
Milwaukee Admirals (4)
Chicago Wolves (4)
Rockford IceHogs (4)
Peoria Rivermen (4)
Charlotte Checkers (4)
Lake Erie Monsters (4)
Rochester Americans (2)
Toronto Marlies (2)
Hamilton Bulldogs (2)
What are you thoughts? When do you think the Aeros home opener will be ... who would you like to see on the other side of the ice come mid-October?