Cents 2011-12 Schedule By The Numbers:
Now that the Cents 2011-12 schedule has been released, I thought I'd take a closer look at it.
The Cents 39th BCHL regular season opens on Friday, September 23, 2011 in Prince George against the Spruce Kings and wraps up on Saturday, March 10, 2012 in Merritt against the Trail Smoke Eaters. It's the fourth straight season that Merritt ends against the Smokies.
Merritt plays Trail, Penticton and Vernon eight times this season (four home, four away). Prince George and Westside each play the Centennials seven times (three home, four away), while Merritt faces Salmon Arm and Chilliwack also each seven times (four home, three away). Powell River, Surrey, Cowichan Valley and Langley are the Coastal Conference teams which will visit the Cents this season for the teams' lone match-up. Coquitlam, Nanaimo, Victoria and Alberni Valley represent the Cents lone road games of the season in the Coastal Conference.
Nicola Valley residents will have things besides hockey to enjoy in the fall, as the Centennials start out with five of their first seven games on the road. At the midpoint of the season on December 9th, Merritt will have played an equal number of home and away games. The season ends with 7 of the Cents 10 final games on home ice.
Merritt's longest stretch of road games is four from Jan. 28 - Feb. 10 with games in Chilliwack, Vernon twice and Westside. The Cents also have five different stretches of three games away from home.
The schedule is highlighted by one six game stretch at home (from Oct. 8 - 23) with visits to Merritt by Vernon, Powell River, Salmon Arm, Chilliwack, Surrey and Cowichan Valley. The Cents also have one four game home stand (Jan. 13 - 18 against Vernon, Chilliwack, Langley and Westside) and three, three-game home stands.
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 Vernon on December 2 and 3, January 7 and 13, and February 10 and 14. There are also two such series against Trail on September 28 and 30, and on March 9 and 10. They'll also play "home and home" series' with Salmon Arm on November 2 and 4, Prince George on November 25 and 26, and Westside on December 17 and 29.
The Centennials have 17 sets of back-to-back games and 3 sets of back-to-back-to-back games. 8 of the back-end games of the 17 back-to-back series are on the road (Prince George (2), Penticton (2), Westside (2), Chilliwack, Vernon). The 9 back-end home games are against Vernon (2), Penticton (2), Trail (2), Salmon Arm, Westside and Chilliwack.
Local fans obviously have plenty of opportunities to see Interior Conference clubs at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. Visits from Coastal Conference clubs are more rare. Here are the four Coastal Conference teams visits to Merritt this year:
* Powell River (October 13)
* Surrey (October 21)
* Cowichan Valley (October 23)
* Langley (January 15)
By the same token, Centennials fans in the Coastal Conference cities will get a chance to see their team in person on these dates:
* Alberni Valley (January 20)
* Victoria (January 21)
* Nanaimo (January 22)
* Coquitlam (February 17)
Games by weekday:
* Sunday: 4 (3 home, 1 away)
* Monday: 0 (0 home, 0 away)
* Tuesday: 3 (3 home, 0 away)
* Wednesday: 9 (3 home, 6 away)
* Thursday: 4 (4 home, 0 away)
* Friday: 22 (10 home, 12 away)
* Saturday: 18 (8 home, 10 away)
And by month:
* September: 4 (1 home, 3 away)
* October: 11 (7 home, 4 away)
* November: 11 (5 home, 6 away)
* December: 10 (5 home, 5 away)
* January: 11 (5 home, 6 away)
* February: 9 (4 home, 5 away)
* March: 4 (3 home, 1 away)
Longest single-day driving trips:
* Merritt to Alberni Valley, 267 miles, Jan. 20
* Merritt to Trail, 276 miles, Sept. 28, Nov. 30, Feb. 29 and Mar. 9
* Merritt to Prince George, 347 miles, Sept. 23, Nov. 26 and Dec. 9