Now that the Cents 2010-11 schedule has been released, I thought I'd take a closer look at it.
The Cents 38th BCHL regular season opens on Friday September 10 in Trail and wraps up on Saturday February 19 in Merritt against the Smoke Eaters. It's the third straight season that Merritt ends against the Smokies.
Merritt plays Trail eight times this season (four home, four away). Penticton, Prince George, Salmon Arm, Westside, Quesnel and Vernon each play the Centennials six times (three home, three away). Powell River, Coquitlam, Surrey, Langley, Nanaimo, Victoria, Cowichan Valley and Alberni Valley each face Merritt twice (one home, one away).
Nicola Valley residents will have things besides hockey to enjoy in the fall, as the Centennials start out with a huge number of games on the road, especially in the first month. On December 30th, they play in their 20th road game of the season but will have played 18 games at home. The good news is that the season ends with 9 of 13 on home ice, including five straight at the end of January-beginning of February.
Merritt's longest stretch of road games is 5 (from Sept. 18 - 30) with games in Salmon Arm, Vernon, Powell River, Coquitlam and Penticton. The Cents also play 5 straight away (from Nov. 17 - 24) with games in Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo, Victoria, Alberni Valley and Penticton. After those, the Centennials will only play more than two away from home twice.
The schedule is highlighted by one five game stretch at home (from Jan. 29 - Feb. 6) with visits to Merritt by Surrey, Prince George, Nanaimo, Cowichan Valley and Alberni Valley. The Cents also have three different four game home stands: (Oct. 9 - 22 against Salmon Arm, Penticton, Coquitlam and Powell River), (Nov. 5 - 13 against Vernon, Westside, Quesnel and Penticton), (Nov. 26 - Dec. 3 against Prince George, Trail, Victoria and Penticton).
One of the cool features of the BCHL's schedule are the "home and home" series, where teams play consecutive games against the same opponent. Luckily, the Cents have seven such series this year - against Salmon Arm on September 17 and 18, on October 8 and 9, and on January 8 and 11. They'll also play "home and home" series' with Penticton on December 3 and 4, Westside on December 10 and 11, Trail on December 18 and 30, and Surrey on January 28 and 29.
The Centennials have 12 sets of back-to-back games and 6 sets of back-to-back-to-back games. 6 of the back-end games of the 12 back-to-back series are on the road (Trail, Salmon Arm (2), Coquitlam, Penticton and Langley). The 6 back-end home games are against Langley, Salmon Arm, Coquitlam, Trail, Westside and Alberni Valley.
A number Centennials contests will have just 1 or 2 days off between - 19 of the 60 games are after just 1 or 2 off days. The Cents have 3 days off 4 times, 4 days off 4 times, 5 days off 5 times and 6 days off 1 time. Of course, there's also an 11 day break over the Christmas holidays for players to go home and spend time with friends and family.
What else? The Cents have 8 day games, all on Sundays. Three of them are on the road while five are at home. Start times for the home games are 2 pm while the other games vary (Oct. 31 in Prince George at 3 pm, Nov. 21 in Alberni Valley at 2:30 pm, Jan. 23 in Quesnel at 2 pm).
Local fans obviously have plenty of opportunities to see Interior Confernce clubs at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. Visits from Coastal Conference clubs are more rare. Here are the eight Coastal Conference teams visits to Merritt this year:
* Langley (October 1)
* Coquitlam (October 16)
* Powell River (October 22)
* Victoria (December 1)
* Surrey (January 29)
* Nanaimo (February 1)
* Cowichan Valley (February 5)
* Alberni Valley (February 6)
By the same token, Centennials fans in in the Coastal Conference cities will get a chance to see their team in person on these dates:
* Powell River (September 24)
* Coquitlam (September 25)
* Cowichan Valley (November 17)
* Nanaimo (November 19)
* Victoria (November 20)
* Alberni Valley (November 21)
* Surrey (January 28)
* Langley (February 12)
Games by weekday:
* Sunday: 8 (5 home, 3 away)
* Monday: 0 (0 home, 0 away)
* Tuesday: 5 (4 home, 1 away)
* Wednesday: 5 (2 home, 3 away)
* Thursday: 3 (1 home, 2 away)
* Friday: 17 (7 home, 10 away)
* Saturday: 22! (12 home, 10 away)
And by month:
* September: 8 (1 home, 7 away)
* October: 12 (7 home, 5 away)
* November: 11 (6 home, 5 away)
* December: 7 (4 home, 3 away)
* January: 13 (6 home, 7 away)
* February: 9 (6 home, 3 away)
Longest single-day driving trips:
* Merritt to Quesnel, 271 miles, Jan 21
* Merritt to Powell River, 275 miles, Sept. 24
* Merritt to Trail, 276 miles, Sept. 10 and Dec. 30
* Merritt to Prince George, 347 miles, Oct. 29