In many respects, the Alaska Aces' 2012-13 schedule is a picture of balance.
The ECHL's two-time defending Brabham Cup champions as the minor-league hockey circuit's top regular-season team next season will have a 72-game schedule that in both 36-game halves features 18 home games at Sullivan Arena and 18 road games. That's a change from last season, when the Aces' front- loaded first half featured 23 home games and 13 roadies, and the road-heavy second half included 23 away games and 13 home matches.
The Aces' first 36 games next season come in a span of 86 days and the final 36 games cover 84 days.
And unlike last season, when the club played an exceedingly long homestand (11 games) and endured three long road trips (11 games, nine games and eight games), next season's schedule does not feature a homestand longer than six games or a road trip longer than six games.
And while the Aces last season once went 27 days between home games, and in another stretch went 24 days between home matches, their longest such gap next season will be 18 days.
When the ECHL released team schedules Wednesday, the Aces' included some noteworthy dates.
The Aces will open on the road for the third time in 10 ECHL seasons -- their first game is Oct. 12 at the Colorado Eagles. Their home debut is Oct. 19 against the Utah Grizzlies.
And get ready to overdose on the Grizzlies. The Aces play them more than any other team -- 14 times -- and 10 of those matches come in Alaska's first 28 games.
For the sixth straight season, the Aces will play a home game on New Year's Eve. Like last season, the opponent is Colorado.
Perhaps the toughest stretch for the Aces comes in February, when they have a stretch of seven games -- four at Utah and three at home against Las Vegas, with a travel day between series -- in a 10-day span.
Alaska plays Colorado 11 times, Stockton 10 times, Las Vegas and newcomer San Francisco nine times, Ontario eight times, Idaho seven times and Bakersfield just four times. The Aces will not play an opponent outside the Western Conference.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
By DOYLE WOODY
Anchorage Daily News