For the second consecutive year, the Wildcats kick off the season on the first day of NAHL hockey. Instead of being in Topeka this time , the Wildcats will open the season on their home turf on Friday, September 9th. They will host the Amarillo Bulls–a team which they have defeated 11 consecutive times–in a one-game series.
Due to the expansion of the South Division with the addition of the Shreveport Mudbugs, alterations to the schedule had to be made to adjust accordingly. Having seven teams in the division now means that one team has to be off essentially every weekend. With this said, we will be seeing signifcantly more three-game series than we did last season.
Last season's only three-game stints were the pre-holiday home series against the Lone Star Brahmas and the February road series against the Odessa Jackalopes. Oddly enough, the Cats were swept in both cases and were only swept again at one other point the entire season. Seeing how they fare in three-game stretches will be something to keep an eye on this year.
Instead of the two we had last year, we now have six three-game stands: three at home and three on the road. The first will take hold on just the second week of the season against the Corpus Christi IceRays, who will take on the Cats in their first Sunday matchup in two seasons. The 2016 Showcase will begin just three days later in Blaine, MN. The matchups for the tournament are yet to be determined.
The Cats' first 12 games are either at home or at the neutral Schwan Super Rink in Blaine. Their first road trip really isn't until the end of October, and it's surrounded by home games before and after. Omitting the showcase tournament, the Wildcats' home-to-away ratio in the first three months of the season is 15-3. Once December hits, things change.
The Cats are on the road for every weekend in December besides Christmas. They play an afternoon game in Topeka on New Years Day before finally returning home. The lop-sided month of December nearly compensates entirely for the home-heavy start to the season, as the second half of the campaign will include six home series and seven away.
Our first visit to Shreveport, Louisiana will take place at the end of January. The Wildcats will be the last South Division team to pay its first visit to Bug City.
The three-game home series against Corpus Christi in March currently has the IceRays playing in Wichita Falls on Wednesday, March 8th, though there is a strong chance that will be changed to Thursday, March 9th. For the second straight year, the Wildcats' season ends on April 8th against the Rays. This time, however, it will be in Corpus Chrsiti.
Below is a breakdown of the Wildcats' opponents and the frequency at which they play. Corpus Christi will be our most visited rivals, as the Cats will be taking the Rays on a dozen times. We will see Topeka the fewest times, playing only one series there and one here.
- Amarillo Bulls: 6 Home, 4 Away (10 games)
- Corpus Christi IceRays: 6 Home, 6 Away (12 games)
- Lone Star Brahmas: 4 Home, 5 Away (9 games)
- Odessa Jackalopes: 4 Home, 6 Away (10 games)
- Shreveport Mudbugs: 5 Home, 4 Away (9 games)
- Topeka RoadRunners: 3 Home, 3 Away (6 games)