BY RYAN ABER
The American Hockey League released its schedule for the 2010-11 season on Wednesday.
The Barons, playing their inaugural season, will have 30 of their 40 home games on weekends.
“We’re very happy with the schedule,” Barons owner Bob Funk Jr. said. “It gives us a good opportunity to be successful.”
The team opens Oct. 9 at the Cox Center against the Houston Aeros at 7:05 p.m.
Home schedule highlights
1. Saturday, Oct. 9 vs. Houston, 7:05 p.m.
The regular season begins at home, with what figures to be one of the Barons’ chief rivals.
2. Friday, Nov. 5 vs. Texas, 7:05 p.m.
The Stars, based in the Austin area and Calder Cup runners-up a season ago, make their first trip to the Cox Center and figure to be another of the Barons’ top rivals.
3. Wednesday, Feb. 9 vs. San Antonio, 10:35 a.m.
The Barons figure to play in front of a large group of school children in their only non-Sunday daytime game of the season
Road schedule highlights
1. Thursday, Feb. 17 vs. Abbotsford at Calgary
The Battle of Alberta on the minor-league level as the rivals’ AHL affiliates play in an NHL venue three days before the Flames and Canadiens play an outdoor game in the city.
2. Sunday, Oct. 24 at Hamilton, noon
Oklahoma City gets a taste of the Canadian spotlight when the Canadian Broadcasting Company televises the Barons game against Montreal’s AHL affiliate.
3. Saturday, Oct. 23 at Toronto, 4 p.m.
Just a night before their televised game at Hamilton, the Barons make their first trip to Canada’s biggest city.
Big weekends set downtown
The Barons and Thunder will play home games on the same day six times, all on weekends.
For the five Friday and Saturday games, Barons games will face off at 6:05 p.m., an hour earlier than normal.
Nov. 7 is the one Sunday where both are at home. The Barons will play Toronto at 5:05 p.m., with the Thunder hosting Boston at 6 p.m.
“Hopefully we can both be successful on those nights,” Barons general manager Bill Scott said. “There’s bound to be conflicts and those were premium dates for both teams.”
While there are several NBA cities that also host AHL teams, all but three play in the same building. The others, Toronto and Chicago, play in buildings that aren’t in the same vicinity as the NBA arena.
The Lake Erie Monsters and the Cleveland Cavaliers will play and AHL/NBA doubleheader Nov. 13 with the Monsters taking on Milwaukee at 1 p.m. and the Cavaliers playing the Pacers at 7:30 at Quicken Loans Arena.
Scott plays double role
The Barons’ GM is preparing to move to Oklahoma City after serving as the AHL’s Director of Hockey Operations.
There, his final job was to finish the schedule.
Scott said it wasn’t difficult to separate the two roles while planning out the league’s slate.
“The schedule’s such a difficult process that you really can’t even begin to think too much about a particular team,” Scott said. “You just try to make it fair for everybody.”
Single-game tickets on sale in September
With the schedule out, single-game tickets should be on sale in mid-September, Barons owner Bob Funk Jr. said.
The delay is due to Ticketmaster taking a few weeks to build the schedule calendars to allow for ticket sales.
Season tickets, 10- and 20-game mini-packs and group sales are underway at OKCBarons.com or by calling (405) 232-4625.
Barons fans will get a good look at their new team in the season’s first eight days as their first four games are at the Cox Center.
All four will be weekend dates with the Barons playing Houston at 7:05 Saturday night, Oct. 9 and Chicago at 3:05 p.m. the next day. They will host Houston again Friday, Oct. 15 and Lake Erie on Oct. 16, both at 7:05 p.m.
Six of the Barons’ first seven games will be at home.
Scott said the AHL tries to avoid having teams play three consecutive times but the Barons will have one such stretch late in the season at Houston.
They will take on the Aeros three consecutive days from March 25-27.
The teams were scheduled to play twice but a late change made it three consecutive games between the division rivals.
“Houston requested home dates for at least one of those days,” Scott said. “And we try to accommodate those requests. It was better to do it this way than have us make another trip down there.”
The Barons will play the same opponent at the same venue in back-to-back games 10 times this season with six at home. It would’ve been 11 but the Feb. 17 game at Abbotsford (B.C.) will be played at Calgary. The Barons will play the Heat at Abbotsford two nights later.
There is at least one other three-game series in the AHL this season with Charlotte hosting Albany for three games in four days from Feb. 12-15.