We knew we would be playing 68 games. We knew we’d be playing primarily the Pacific Division.
What we didn’t know was who’d be our opponent on any given day.
Now we know.
- 2016-17 = 6 total (3H, 3A)
- 2015-16 = 6 total (2H, 4A)
- 2016-17 = 10 total (6H, 4A)
- 2015-16 = 9 total (5H, 4A)
- 2016-17 = 13 total (5H, 8A)
- 2015-16 = 11 total (4H, 7A)
- 2016-17 = 10 total (5H, 5A)
- 2015-16 = 11 total (7H, 4A)
- 2016-17 = 9 total (5H, 4 A)
- 2015-16 = 10 total (6H, 4A)
- 2016-17 = 13 total (5H, 8A)
- 2015-16 = 13 total (5H, 8A)
- 2016-17 = 7 total (5H, 2A)
- 2015-16 = 8 total (5H, 3A)
But that only tells half of the story. A total of 18 times in 15-16 did the Heat play back to back games while it will occur 22 times this year.
Plus the hardest stretch of hockey for the Heat in 15-16 occurred in March where the team played six games in nine nights and yes that came on that season-long five game road trip to Bakersfield, Manitoba and Ontario. This season, the hardest stretch will also come in March but sees the team play five games in eight nights; however, the biggest difference is that two of those five games take place at Stockton Arena.
Sure, the following week sees the team take off for Texas which will again be another critical five-game road swing through Austin and San Antonio, but after that trip six games will remain on the schedule and the lone road contest left will be a quick jaunt to San Jose.
Now let’s talk about that team because that’s the team that Stockton had the least amount of success with last year. We host them on Opening Night but we won’t see them again until December 8, a date I have circled in my calendar because it’s the first game at the SAP Center, a place Stockton has yet to win at. That matchup could certainly set the tone for the next 10 games between the teams, five of which come at the SAP Center. By the way, three games at the Shark Tank during December.
I notice we’ll be seeing a lot of San Jose and Bakersfield in the second half of the season. The midway point of the season (aka game number 34) is on January 14 against San Jose. By that point in time we’d have played Bako three times (all on the road) and San Jose five times (one at home, four on the road) and mind you, we play both teams 12 times each. That means we have nine games vs. Bako in the second half to go along with seven against San Jose.
Can you say rivalry?
To refresh your memory we went 5-7-0 vs. Bakersfield last season and 3-8-1 vs. San Jose.
The other opponents we see fairly often include San Diego (10 times), which was a series the Heat won last year, but was fairly even and eight games against the Ontario Reign. Stockton was 5-7-0 vs. Ontario last season.
The big unknown will come with Tucson as last year, the Arizona Coyotes top affiliate (Springfield Falcons) were the second to worst team in the AHL with a 26-42-3-5 record and just a 0.395 win percentage. I’d imagine they will be better this year because Arizona has improved with a lot of young talent coming in, plus, it’s their first year in Tucson and they’ll want to put on a good show. We play the Roadrunners eight times as well next season.
The teams that got scaled back are in Texas against two teams the Heat found great success against last year. The Heat combined for an 8-2-1-1 record against Texas and San Antonio, playing a total of 12 games against the clubs where as this upcoming season, the Heat play Texas six times and San Antonio four times for a total of 10 games against the Lone Star State’s teams.
Finally we play three new opponents from the Central Division and none of them are slouches. Milwaukee was one of the best teams in the league last year and won the Central Division, Grand Rapids was a playoff team in the Central and Charlotte just missed out on being the crossover team. Of those teams, we play Charlotte four times total with home-and-home series for the other two.
It’s important to keep in mind though that the records accrued last season might not tell the complete story. There have been lots of changes to every team and so teams we had success against last year could become tough opponents this year and teams that were tough for the Heat last year could see our team develop an early rhythm against and find success this season. You really never know!
One thing is for certain though, and that this is just one more step closer to October!
However lets close this blog out with a couple dates that I’m excited for this year:
- Obviously the Home Opener vs. San Jose on October 15
- First game vs. Tucson (that counts) on Friday, October 21
- First game in Tucson on Friday, October 28
- Pink Weekend on November 4 and 5 which opens up a season-long five-game homestand
- Series opening matchup with the Condors in Bako on November 19
- Charlotte comes to town on November 30 and December 7
- Thursday, December 8 marks the return to the SAP Center and the start of a season-long, six-game roadtrip
- Lone game vs. Milwaukee on January 7
- Trip to the Midwest on January 27 (MIL) and 28 (Grand Rapids)
- Trip to Charlotte on February 10 and 11
- Grand Rapids makes their only appearance at Stockton Arena on March 12
- Potentially critical five-game roadie to Texas and San Antonio begins with three vs. the Stars on March 24
As many of you know, our Director of Community Relations Katie Billiet has departed the team for a new job in the city. While she’ll be missed by many for all that she’s done for our community, I’ll miss her because since I moved to Stockton Katie has been my officemate. I mean, our cubicles were directly across from each other when I first got here, then our offices were next to each other before the Heat took over our offices for a gym and we moved upstairs where Katie and I would share an office.
Plus she was my wife’s maid of honor so Katie is a great friend of mine, so my way of paying tribute to her is here with a logo.
Trying to figure out what best represents Katie is hard. I knew she had liked (maybe now that she doesn’t work for the Heat she has gone back to liking them…I’m not sure) the Vancouver Canucks, but I’m not about to feature a rival of my club here. So then it was brainstorming time and then it hit me.
One of Katie’s favorite people she’s ever met in hockey is former Thunder goaltender Cody Reichard (who could blame her too, he’s a tremendous person) who went to a school pretty close to me, The University of Miami (OH) in Oxford, Ohio. One of my least favorite drives to make of all time is from Cincinnati to Oxford. It shouldn’t be as long as it is….but I digress.
Miami used to be known by a different moniker but what plagues the football team in Washington plagued the University as well and the renamed the team, the Redhawks. Not only is the name far better than before, but so is the logo. I like the simplicity of the bird but they did a great job of also making it look mean. I think it’s actually one of the best logos in the NCAA, however, Miami likes to use a giant “M” as their main logo for helmets and jerseys. That I’m not a fan of, but at the end of the day, I don’t care, because go Bearcats (University of Cincinnati)!
Good luck Katie in your new job! You’ll be missed in our office.
Brandon Kisker is the Heat’s Director of Broadcast & Media Relations and will be entering his fourth season as a broadcaster in Stockton and second for the Heat. He yells a lot when excited, but that yelling is genuine, and typically fist pumps when goals are scored or big saves are made. He thinks Rick Jenerette is really top shelf…..and that is where mama hides the cookies. He just finished his thank you notes for his wedding and realized that his handwriting is atrocious. “W’s” are a struggle. He’d like to be notified when it will be acceptable to email thank you notes. Follow him on Twitter @kiskerbc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or questions.