Last year at this time (well, six weeks later, but on Spy Camera Day), we did a little Preliminary RestWatch on the three-in-threes. Last year’s, as noted, was pretty kind to Bridgeport, all in all. There aren’t MANY this year where you shake your head, except for one.
And it happens to be the very last one.
April 13 at Lehigh Valley, April 14 at Hershey, April 15 vs. Charlotte. The travel’s not simple, if not something that will make anyone feel sorry for them. But it’s the other side of it that’s rough. While the Sound Tigers play in Allentown, Hershey is idle. And while Bridgeport goes to Hershey, Charlotte will be sitting in Bridgeport after playing Friday in Providence.
Heck, a week off before a two-game weekend did nothing for a backs-against-the-wall Sound Tigers team last year, so it’s ridiculous to imagine what this year’s finale could mean. But they weren’t done any favors.
The others range from a no-big-deal tour of the New England holdouts (Nov. 3-4-5, at PVD-SPR-at PVD again, where the others face Hartford on the off days) to a straight-line six-hour shot (March 16 at Hershey, home for Rochester on St. Patrick’s Day, up to Providence on the weekend, though Providence will be coming from Allentown that night). On their first three-in-three, the Sound Tigers’ back-end opponents, Laval on Saturday and Hartford on Sunday, will both be coming in from Wilkes-Barre after Bridgeport goes to Allentown on Friday.
On Thanksgiving weekend, the Sound Tigers should beat both of their road opponents to town; Lehigh Valley will be in Springfield on Friday while the Sound Tigers play at home, and Hershey plays at Hartford on Saturday while Bridgeport plays in Allentown (though the Bears will have had Friday off). The Sound Tigers will be at home on Saturday during their December three-in-threes while Sunday’s opponent plays at home themselves. That’ll happen again in early March, capped with a Sunday visit from Springfield after a home-and-home with the Phantoms, and again the second-to-last weekend of the season, with Wilkes-Barre coming in on Sunday.
Mid-December might have the weirdest/fairest one. It starts on a Friday at Springfield, the middle of three December visits in three weeks, when the Thunderbirds will be coming off a Wednesday game at Wilkes-Barre. Bridgeport goes home to face the Penguins, who’ll be coming from Hartford. And on Sunday, the Phantoms come in after a home game against Syracuse, though Lehigh Valley will have had Friday off.
Scheduling is fun, I guess, is what I’m trying to get at. And again, I haven’t reversed this to see when Bridgeport might be going in fresher than their opponents in non-Sound Tigers three-in-threes. Exercise for the reader.
–Funny that Bridgeport plays at Utica on Dec. 1, home for Utica on Dec. 2, and again against Utica… um… not in the regular season.
–Was hoping to make the Laval-Belleville swing, but falling right in the middle of the winter high school tournaments, doubt it. Ah well.
–The Hartford season series alternates perfectly, here-there, for 10 games. The first four Bridgeport-Hartford meetings are, from Bridgeport’s perspective at least, two home-and-homes… but separated by almost a week in the first case and four days in the second. (The first is uninterrupted for Hartford, too, but the Wolf Pack get Laval in town in between in the second.)
–Unlike last year, when there were next to no possible makeup dates in the second half of the season (which thankfully weren’t needed), there are possibilities dotting the entire upcoming season. Granted, not many are appealing, but they’re makeup dates. Also, there aren’t any after March 26. (Like we mentioned last year, there’s a possibility that teams could make up games quickly, like the next day, like the Sound Tigers and Syracuse did that time the NCAA changeover didn’t work, without running afoul of no-four-games-in-five-days.)
—Edit, 3:45: Forgot. The AHL CBA mandates a three-day break at Christmas but leaves open which day should be the third. In past years, it has been the 23rd, but with that being a Saturday this time around, the teams get that Saturday date, and the players (and the media) get Boxing Day off. After a couple of years having a week off at Christmas, this’ll be a little different.