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AHL schedule released; Stockton Heat to play fewer games

The Calgary Flames' top affiliate kicks off its season on Oct. 10, three days after the Flames themselves do.

Marianne Helm/Getty Images

The AHL is entering a new era. On Oct. 9, 2015, the 2015-16 season starts - and with it, the beginning of the newly formed AHL Pacific Division, featuring five teams in California, all affiliated with NHL Pacific Division teams.

The Stockton Heat's season starts on Oct. 10, at home against Rockford.

The Heat, along with the San Jose Barracuda, Bakersfield Condors, San Diego Gulls, and Ontario Reign will all play 68 games this season, while the rest of the league plays its standard 76. The San Antonio Rampage and Texas Stars - realigned to the Pacific Division, but not in California - still play their full 76-game season.

The missing eight games for the California teams are to accommodate the increased travel demands the Pacific Division will have. It will be better for them, though: three games in three nights, which used to be a reality for the Abbotsford Heat, are a thing of the past, and the players will have much more time to practice.

Recalling players will now be much easier (no more days-long journeys for players like Joni Ortio, who just barely make it in time to suit up, let alone have adequate rest). Stockton is far closer to Calgary, and players can be recalled on much shorter notice; there's also the fact that California weather is less likely to cause delays than crazy upstate New York snow storms.

Eight games vs. less travel, more practice time, less strenuous circumstances, and easier recalls? It's a no-brainer.

Stockton will play 60 divisional contests; the remaining eight games will be out of division, against Rockford (two), Iowa (two), and Manitoba (four). Only 10 of their 68 games take place outside the state of California.

A nice little bonus to this set up is that by seeing the same opponents so frequently, very genuine rivalries should build up. Considering it's the Flames affiliate most often facing the Sharks, Oilers, Ducks, and Kings affiliates - all NHL divisional opponents - that could bring a more intense rivalry up into the professional leagues. As it stands, though, California hockey fans should be in for a real treat this season.

Here's the Stockton Heat's full 2015-16 season (California games bolded):

Day Date Time Opponent
Sat 10/10/15 7:30 PM Rockford
Thu 10/15/15 7:00 PM San Jose
Wed 10/21/15 7:30 PM @ Texas
Sat 10/24/15 7:00 PM @ San Antonio
Fri 10/30/15 7:05 PM @ San Diego
Sat 10/31/15 5:35 PM @ San Diego
Fri 11/6/15 7:30 PM Bakersfield
Sat 11/7/15 7:30 PM Ontario
Fri 11/13/15 7:30 PM @ San Antonio
Sat 11/14/15 7:00 PM @ Texas
Wed 11/18/15 7:00 PM San Diego
Sat 11/21/15 7:30 PM San Jose
Wed 11/25/15 7:00 PM @ Ontario
Fri 11/27/15 7:30 PM Bakersfield
Sat 11/28/15 7:00 PM @ Bakersfield
Fri 12/4/15 7:30 PM @ San Jose
Sat 12/5/15 7:30 PM San Diego
Thu 12/10/15 7:00 PM @ San Antonio
Sat 12/12/15 7:00 PM @ Texas
Wed 12/16/15 7:00 PM Bakersfield
Fri 12/18/15 7:30 PM Bakersfield
Sun 12/20/15 3:00 PM @ San Jose
Sat 12/26/15 7:00 PM @ Bakersfield
Sun 12/27/15 5:00 PM @ San Jose
Tue 12/29/15 7:00 PM Ontario
Thu 12/31/15 7:00 PM @ Ontario
Sat 1/2/16 4:00 PM Texas
Sun 1/3/16 4:00 PM Bakersfield
Wed 1/6/16 7:30 PM @ San Jose
Fri 1/8/16 7:00 PM @ Ontario
Wed 1/13/16 7:00 PM San Antonio
Sat 1/16/16 7:00 PM @ Rockford
Sun 1/17/16 5:00 PM @ Iowa
Fri 1/22/16 7:30 PM Manitoba
Sat 1/23/16 7:30 PM Manitoba
Wed 1/27/16 7:00 PM Ontario
Sat 1/30/16 7:30 PM Bakersfield
Fri 2/5/16 7:05 PM @ San Diego
Sat 2/6/16 7:00 PM @ Bakersfield
Tue 2/9/16 7:00 PM @ Bakersfield
Sat 2/13/16 7:30 PM Ontario
Sun 2/14/16 4:00 PM San Antonio
Wed 2/17/16 7:00 PM @ Ontario
Sat 2/20/16 7:30 PM San Jose
Sun 2/21/16 4:00 PM San Jose
Wed 2/24/16 7:00 PM San Diego
Sun 2/28/16 4:00 PM San Antonio
Tue 3/1/16 7:30 PM @ San Jose
Fri 3/4/16 7:05 PM @ San Diego
Sat 3/5/16 7:05 PM @ San Diego
Wed 3/9/16 7:00 PM San Jose
Fri 3/11/16 7:30 PM Texas
Sat 3/12/16 7:30 PM Texas
Fri 3/18/16 7:30 PM Iowa
Sat 3/19/16 7:00 PM @ Bakersfield
Mon 3/21/16 7:00 PM @ Manitoba
Wed 3/23/16 7:00 PM @ Manitoba
Fri 3/25/16 7:00 PM @ Ontario
Sat 3/26/16 6:00 PM @ Ontario
Wed 3/30/16 7:00 PM San Diego
Fri 4/1/16 7:30 PM Ontario
Sun 4/3/16 3:05 PM @ San Diego
Wed 4/6/16 7:00 PM Ontario
Sat 4/9/16 7:30 PM San Diego
Sun 4/10/16 4:00 PM San Diego
Tue 4/12/16 7:00 PM @ Bakersfield
Sat 4/16/16 7:30 PM San Jose
Sun 4/17/16 3:00 PM @ San Jose