The Alaska Aces just released the schedule for their ECHL Western Conference Finals series with the Las Vegas Wranglers, and it's not good news for Aces fans -- because of rink availability issues, the series starts with two games in Las Vegas even though the Aces own home-ice advantage.
The series starts Thursday night in Vegas, followed by a Friday game in Sin City, a Saturday travel day and a Sunday Game 3 in Anchorage.
As you will see below, the format is 2-4-1 -- two games in Vegas, four in Anchorage, one in Vegas (with the 'if necessary' caveat, of course). That's instead of the preferred 2-3-2 format.
This is not good for the Aces because they do not get the first two games on home ice at Sullivan Arena, where they fashioned the regular-season's best home record. It means, worst-case scenario, of course, they could find themselves down 2-0 and coming home rather than the best-case scenario, up 2-0 and hitting the road.
Another tough part of schedule: Six games in nine days. Plus, first three games in four nights, with a travel day in between.
If the Aces lose the first two games, the Cowbell Crew will be very unhappy. If the Aces split the first two games, then they probably won't be so upset.
Talking to Aces managing member Terry Parks this morning, he said the situation could have been much more dire. There were scenarios in which the teams were looking at playing in practice rinks in Las Vegas (not in Orleans Arena) and looking at potentially scheduling Games 6 and 7 at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks.
The scheduling conflicts came about at Sullivan because of Anchorage School District graduation ceremonies already scheduled there (that venue is the only one that can handle the crowds for graduation) and conflicts at the Orleans were because of motocross races scheduled (and the couple days it takes to install dirt for that sport, and the couple days it involves to remove the dirt).
"This is not great,'' Parks said of the series schedule, "but it could have been a lot worse.''
Tickets for games at Sullivan go on sale at 9 a.m. Tuesday and can be purchased at the Aces office, the Sullivan Arena Box Office, Fred Meyer Stores, or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
The Blog is sure Aces fans will immediately recall the last rink availability situation that caused an unusual series format: In 2010, the Aces had to host the first two games of the first round in Wasilla against Stockton and lost that best-of-5 series in four games. The Aces and Thunder split those two games in Wasilla.
In any event, here's the schedule. Feel free to vent.
Western Conference Finals: #1 Alaska vs. #3 Las Vegas (All Times AKT)
Game 1 - Thursday, April 26, @ Orleans Arena, 6:05pm
Game 2 - Friday, April 27, @ Orleans Arena, 6:05pm
Game 3 - Sunday, April 29, @ Sullivan Arena, 7:15pm
Game 4 - Tuesday, May 1, @ Sullivan Arena, 7:15pm
*Game 5 - Wednesday, May 2, @ Sullivan Arena, 7:15pm
*Game 6 - Friday, May 4, @ Sullivan Arena, 7:15pm
*Game 7 - Wednesday, May 9 @ Orleans Arena, 6:05pm
* If necessary