Following the release of the American Hockey League’s 2018-19 regular season schedule last week, the Toronto Marlies are counting down the 81 days until hitting the ice to open the campaign and defend their Calder Cup championship. The Marlies will look to make an eighth straight playoff appearance when the season kicks off in Utica, but first, we take a closer look at some of the key points of this year’s schedule.
Getting Familiar With Canadian Foes
After going a combined 20-4-0-0 against the Belleville Senators (Ottawa) and Laval Rocket (Montreal) last season, the Marlies will once again face their Canadian North Division rivals extensively this season. Belleville and Laval finished bottom of the division last season – the first for both cities – but each team has made off-season changes behind the bench and will look to improve and challenge for a playoff berth this year.
The Marlies and Senators will face off twelve times again this season, starting with three games at the Yardmen Arena from November 9-16. Toronto will host Belleville for the first time on December 9.
The season series with Laval will feature ten games on the schedule this year, with an October 23 matchup at Coca-Cola Coliseum set to get the rivalry rolling again this year.
New Neighbours In The North
The Cleveland Monsters are the newest members of the North Division, moving to the Eastern Conference as a result of realignment after the Colorado Eagles joined the league. The Monsters, who hoisted the Calder Cup in 2016, will be a familiar sight for Marlies fans as the two sides will face off eight times this year.
Cleveland will be in the building for this year’s home opener on October 8, when the Marlies raise their Calder Cup champion banner. It’s the first meeting between the two sides since April 8, 2016.
With Cleveland’s addition, the North Division now features four teams who have reached the Calder Cup Finals over the past four years (Toronto – 2018, Syracuse – 2017, Cleveland – 2016, Utica – 2015).
With the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair taking over the Coca-Cola Coliseum in November and the International Boat Show turning the ice into a lake in January, the Marlies will again board the bus for two extended road trips throughout the season, each at five games apiece.
The Marlies were the league’s best road team last year – shattering the all-time record for most road wins in a single season – and will look to continue that success away from home this season. Both the Royal and Boat Show road trips are five games apiece, and feature five of the six games the Marlies will play in Belleville this season.
Additionally, Toronto will have two weekend trips to face Atlantic Division opponents, visiting Hartford, Springfield and Providence from February 13-16 and Hershey, Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton from March 16-20.
A Dutiful December
December will be the busiest month of the season for the Marlies, as they have fourteen games scheduled – including nine at home over that stretch. The action starts with a six-game homestand (the Marlies’ longest of the season) when Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Lehigh Valley, Providence, Laval, Belleville and Syracuse visit the Coca-Cola Coliseum.
Weekend trips for back-to-back games against Manitoba and Laval are also on the docket, while the annual Boxing Day Classic will take place against Belleville and Charlotte will visit for a New Year’s Eve matinee.
Skating at Scotiabank Arena
The Marlies will make a short trip east to Scotiabank Arena, home of the Maple Leafs, three times this season. The Boxing Day Classic against Belleville will be the Marlies first game on the Leafs’ ice, followed by a Family Day feature against Syracuse and a March Break matinee with the Senators.
The Marlies went 2-2-0-0 on the Leafs’ ice last season and drew a combined 48,156 fans, averaging over 12,000 fans over the four games.