It’s an earlier start to the season, and a new league. There was no time for fancy media conferences, just a schedule release which couldn’t be more favorable. Read on, to learn why.
The SteelHawks will open the 2016 season at the PPL Center in Allentown, as they host the Philadelphia Yellow Jackets in the AIF Kickoff Classic on Saturday March 5, at 7:00PM. It’s the first game of the year in the new league for the ‘Hawks, and it’s not clear if it’s a regular season game or an exhibition–or something in between–because it doesn’t appear to be listed on the AIF website. No matter, though, it will be good to get a look at our 2016 squad early on–in the past it was common for the team to start out with a bye or two, followed by a road game to open the season.
After the “Kickoff Classic” the men of steel head West to play the “Central Penn” Capitals team which will play its home games at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. The following week they’ll be off to North Carolina to face the “Triangle Torch” on Good Friday. They’ll conclude their entire road slate the following week as they could remain in North Carolina to face the Winston Wildcats.
The odd three and done road schedule should favor a SteelHawks squad which traditionally gets off to a hot start before cooling down as the season wears on. A nice record after the first four (three?) games will lead them into a 5-game home stand (over 7 weeks) to conclude the regular season. They’ll get a re-match with Winston, then a week off before Philly returns. Philly will play their home games at U Penn–but the SteelHawks never visit this season. The next week will bring Harrisburg to the PPL Center followed by another week off, a visit from Triangle, and a rematch with Harrisburg to conclude the slate.
This string of home games and byes should allow the ‘Hawks to avoid the second-half swoon that has unfortunately become their trademark in recent years. The losses in the second half have cost the team the opportunity to host a playoff game (or two). As with our other teams around these parts (IronPigs, Phantoms, SteelFC) I really look forward to the opportunity to see playoff games as the quality of competition and quality of the fans seems to rise to such an occasion. Or, at least that’s been my observation in the limited chance we’ve had to experience such.
More on the AIF: The AIF North also includes Chicago, Marion (OH) whom we played last season, Maryland, Saginaw, River City (KY) and West Michigan–none of whom appear on the SteelHawks schedule. Meanwhile, the Southern division includes some of our old Georgia friends from the PIFL, as well as some south-western teams. Certainly, travel considerations, scheduling limitations with the arenas, and the ability to have home/home matchups were in play while making these schedules. In addition, since most teams play an 8-game 4/4 home/away schedule, I would assume some allowances were made in order for the SteelHawks to fulfill obligations at the PPL Center–as well as to Season Ticket Holders–to hold 6 home games. We’ll have to see how that plays out next season–and if the PIFL can rise from its ashes.
Of course, SteelHawks games will never interfere with Phantoms–as they obviously use the same facility. However, the Saturday April 30 game and the Saturday May 21 game do go head-to-head with the IronPigs. I’d like to see them avoid that scheduling over-lap; however, I’m sure with the change of leagues and the need to get the games in around other arena events does limit the flexibility somewhat. As for me, well, we’ll see how things go–could be it will rain. 😉
Stay tuned for more SteelHawks news. I’ve seen some very interesting signings as the SteelHawks gather talent for the 2016 squad–I think they had the opportunity to gather some players from some of the dormant PIFL teams. I hope to get in touch with team representatives in the coming weeks to highlight some of those signings.
In addition, I would expect to hear about a season ticket pickup party at some point, as that’s been the SteelHawks tradition. We’ll wait to see if they hold it closer to the arena or closer to their Bethlehem headquarters this season.
See you at the arena,