With the Central Hockey League schedule completed, its time to take a look at some of the most intriguing matchups this season that are sure to have players, coaches and fans geared up. In chronological order, heres a look at ten of the most highly anticipated games to look forward to in the 2005-2006 season.
#1 Laredo Bucks @ Colorado Eagles
Friday, October 25 (7:05 PM)
The last two Ray Miron Presidents Cup Champions meet at the Budweiser Events Center to kickstart the 05-06 campaign. Many familiar faces will be in the lineup for both clubs, and the Eagles will raise their 04-05 championship banner in front of the 03-04 champion Bucks. The clubs also square off in Laredo on Saturday, November 12th and Friday, January 20th.
#2 Amarillo Gorillas @ Lubbock Cotton Kings
Saturday, October 29 (7:05 PM)
The Southwest Division rivals meet for the first of 14 meetings this season, with last year still fresh in the minds of both organizations. Lubbock earned a 1-0 win in Amarillo on the final day of the 04-05 season to win the division, but the Gorillas had the last laugh, upending the Cotton Kings 4 games to 1 in the first round of the playoffs.
#3 Oklahoma City Blazers @ Youngstown SteelHounds
Friday, November 4 (7:05 PM)
The expansion Youngstown SteelHounds welcome the CHLs all-time winningest club (515 wins since 1992) in the first ever game at the Youngstown Convocation Center. The SteelHounds open with five road games, but this gives them their first chance to entertain their home crowd at the state-of-the art facility.
#4 Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs @ Wichita Thunder
Saturday, November 5 (7:05 PM)
The two Northern Conference rivals meet for the first time following the Thunders dramtic 2-1 overtime win in Game 7 in the opening round of last years playoffs. The clubs will face off an additional four times throughout the season, including a St. Patrick's Day contest March 17th in Bossier-Shreveport.
#5 Odessa Jackalopes @ Lubbock Cotton Kings
Tuesday, November 8 (11:00 AM)
Bring the kids! Southwest rivals Lubbock and Odessa meet for the first of two matinee contests (also November 17th in Odessa) between the clubs. Both teams won their Kids Day home games last season, with Lubbock stopping Rio Grande Valley 5-1 and Odessa handling San Angelo 4-1, both on November 16th.
#6 Tulsa Oilers @ Oklahoma City Blazers
Friday, November 25 (7:35 PM)
The first of 11 meetings between the Oklahoma rivals this season, and the 154th of all time. The Blazers have won 80 of the previous meetings, with the Oilers capturing the other 73. Last season Tulsa took 7 of 11 head to head meetings, including a 5-4 win on March 18th that virtually eliminated Oklahoma City from playoff contention.
#7 Fort Worth Brahmas @ Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees
Saturday, December 31 (7:35 PM)
The Brahmas and Killer Bees wrap up 2005 with a home and home series on the 30th and 31st. After Fridays contest in Fort Worth, the clubs travel 524 miles to the Dodge Arena and the New Years Eve contest. The Killer Bees suffered a 1-0 heartbreaking loss in Laredo on December 31st last year, and hope to get better on home ice.
#8 Tulsa Oilers @ Memphis RiverKings
Saturday, December 31 (7:05 PM)
The 100th all-time meeting between the Oilers and RiverKings fittingly takes place on New Years Eve. The teams split the season series last year with two wins each, and Tulsa has a very slight (49 to 48) lead in all time head to head wins entering this season.
#9 Laredo Bucks @ Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs
Friday, January 13 (7:05 PM)
Perhaps the most intense non-conference rivalry in the CHL continues on Friday the 13th as Laredo visits Bossier-Shreveport in one of three meetings this season between the 03-04 championship finalists. Last year, in front of a record crowd of 12,430 at the CenturyTel Center, Dan Wildfong scored with just 20 seconds left to play to give the Mudbugs a 4-3 win. The teams also meet Saturday, February 11th in Bossier-Shreveport and Saturday, December 3rd in Laredo.
#10 - Austin Ice Bats @ Corpus Christi Rayz
Saturday, February 18 (7:35 PM)
Corpus Christi welcomes Southeast Division rival Austin to the AmericanBank Center for their annual Pack the House night. The Rayz appear to be much improved over last season, with the addition of goaltender Scott Reid and several others, and the full crowd on hand should provide a wild atmosphere. The Rayz won 6 of 10 head to head meetings in 04-05.
Other Games Worth Noting (Submitted by Site Visitors)
Memphis RiverKings @ Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs
Friday, October 21 (7:05 PM)
The opening night match up between the Mudbugs and the Riverkings at the CTC should be on the list too. These two division rivals absolutly hate each other and Memphis usually brings a big group of fans which adds to the atmosphere. As a Mudbug fan my favorite games to go to are the ones against Memphis because they are so intense. The fans will be ready to make some noise since this will be the first time to see the Bugs since the heart-breaker in Game 7 last year.
Youngstown SteelHounds @ Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs
Saturday, October 22 (7:05 PM)
Youngstown SteelHounds Head Coach Jean Laforest will make his first ever visit to the city he led to back-to-back WPHL Championships as a visiting coach. Laforest compiled a 133-56-19 record in three years behind the bench with the Bugs. Current Mudbugs bench boss, Scott Muscutt, played for Laforest on both championship teams.
Tulsa Oilers @ Fort Worth Brahmas
Saturday, October 22 (7:30 PM)
The Brahmas will open the 2005-2006 home portion of their schedule with a major chip on their collective shoulders. Fort Worth was just 1-3-2 last season against their Northern Conference rivals from Oklahoma, with the Brahmas lone win against Tulsa last season coming way back on Oct. 29, 2004. Tulsa then topped the Brahmas in the last five games played between the two teams during the 2004-2005 campaign. Two of the Oilers wins were of the heartbreaking variety for the Brahmas--a 7-6 Tulsa win in Tulsa on Tuesday, Jan. 18 capped off a two goal Tulsa rally in the final two minutes of regulation and then, on February 25, the Oilers scored with just 29 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and then go on to eventually beat the Brahmas 6-5 in overtime. Fort Worth, and their loyal fans, will be looking for payback in this game.
Corpus Christi Rayz @ Laredo Bucks
Saturday, October 29 (7:30 PM)
Corpus Christi visits Laredo in the first of 13 meetings between two Southeast "Superpowers" The clubs also meet on the last two days of the regular season, with the division title potentially on the line.
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