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Monarchs' schedule released, longest trip comes early

The Manchester Monarchs learned their schedule for the upcoming 2011-12 American Hockey League season on Thursday.

The AHL Board of Governors approved the schedule for the entire league, comprising 1,140 regular season games. Each team will play 76 games this season, four fewer than in the past.

In order for teams to begin selling tickets to key games, the Monarchs have known several home dates for a while. This includes opening weekend of Oct. 7 and 8 when Manchester will host the Springfield Falcons and newest AHL member St. John&#';s.

After that, Manchester will embark on its longest road trip of the season. The Monarchs will spend Oct. 14-22 on the road for six games, though none of them are outside of New England.

Manchester will meet border rivals Portland 12 times, the baby Bruins from Providence 10 times, Worcester 12 times and St. John&#';s eight times, giving the Monarchs 42 games against Atlantic Division opponents.

The Monarchs will also see Connecticut, Bridgeport and Springfield six times each and Adirondack, Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton four times each.

Rounding out the schedule will be two games against defending Calder Cup champion Binghamton and two against Albany. Manchester will not face a Western Conference team in the regular season.

The AHL re-aligned this year, moving from four divisions to six. Manchester is still in the Atlantic, which shrinks from seven teams to five as a third Eastern Conference division, the Northeast, is formed.

Aside from opening weekend, other key dates include Nov. 19 for the second annual Monarchs Education Day with an 11 a.m. game for students, the annual New Year&#';s Eve game Dec. 31 and the second annual &#';Pink in the Rink&#'; breast cancer awareness event on Feb. 11.

All Monarchs home games will begin at 7 p.m. with the exception of Sunday matinees, which drop the puck at 3 p.m. For ticket information for the coming season, check or call the office at 626-7825.

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