The Salt Lake Golden Eagles will get a head start this season as they try to win their third straight International Hockey League Turner Cup.
For the first time in franchise history - and the club enters its 20th season on Oct. 7 at Milwaukee - the Eagles will start their games at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30.The early start has worked for baseball's Trappers, and it should make it easier for families to attend games. Also, working people who have to get up in the morning may appreciate getting home a little earlier from games. And the 7 p.m. start will make it easier on media deadlines, considering games have in the past often lasted until past 10:30 p.m., missing news telecasts.
The first home game, and first-ever 7 p.m. start, will be Oct. 11 in the Salt Palace against Kalamazoo. The K-Wings will be in for a three-game series, Oct. 11, 12 and 14, their only Salt Lake City appearance of the regular season.
There's another change for the Eagles, entering their second season under Coach Paul Baxter and the Calgary Flames' affiliation. The Eagles will have a new and more powerful radio broadcast, which will now be carried by KRSP AM-1060. Plans are for all games to be carried live instead of on tape delay, which was often the case in the past. The new radio deal was one of the first things engineered by new general manager Mike Runge. Mike Barack will again handle play-by-play.
The Eagles' schedule, worked out by former general manager Marc Amicone with some revisions by Baxter, is highly unbalanced but more economical than in the past. The Eagles will play six to eight games each against East Division opponents - a total of 34 games - and 10 to 14 games against West Division opponents - 48 games total. They'll play Indianapolis 10 times, Milwaukee and Peoria 12 each and Colorado 14 times.
The longest homestand of the season is 24 days, from Jan. 25 to Feb. 17, for 11 games. There's also a 20-day homestand, Dec. 10-29, seven games. The longest road trip is 19 days, from Feb. 18 to March 8. March will be the busiest month with 15 games, eight home and seven away. February is the lightest month, with 10 games, seven at home.