MACON, Ga. – History will be made in more ways than one during the upcoming ECHL season by way of the Savannah Ghost Pirates bringing pro hockey to Savannah and Georgia’s Coastal Empire.
But before all of those firsts such as the first goal, first save, first win, and more, there’ll be puck drops to handle. That will come to Savannah all season long for the Ghost Pirates, who begin the season Oct. 22 on the road in Greenville and Oct. 23 at Atlanta. That’ll be a start to a five-game road swing to start the year for Savannah, which gets its first long road trip a weekend later Oct. 28-29 at Fort Wayne before going to Greenville again on Nov. 4.
Then, on Nov. 5, Saturday night will be alright for hockey at the Enmarket Arena for the home debut of the Ghost Pirates with the second half of the weekend home-and-home with the Swamp Rabbits.
Ghost Pirate fans should go ahead and get familiar with the Swamp Rabbits, as the two teams play 15 times, the most of any Savannah opponent.
As far as natural rivalries go, it should not be too hard with Savannah’s closest opponents. In-state foe Atlanta plays the Ghost Pirates 11 times. Perhaps the most natural rivalry, though not within the same state may very well be the South Carolina Stingrays, whose home arena is just 107 miles from Savannah’s Enmarket Arena and plays Savannah ten times this year. Plus, with both cities being closely linked due to their history and place in the region’s history and claiming other similarities (low-country boil, anyone?) a Savannah and South Carolina rivalry feels natural – plus an easy drive for both team’s fans.
Next closest in distance from Savannah is Jacksonville, whose home arena is less than 140 miles away. The Ghost Pirates and Icemen play seven times. With these teams close together, it’s arguably the closest thing pro hockey has seen in the South to the I-10 rivalries in the 1990s with teams in Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Mobile, and Pensacola.
Savannah’s home slate will be marked by clusters of games in bursts. The home opener starts a four-game stretch with three contests at home through Nov. 18-19 with Florida in town Nov. 11 and Orlando and Jacksonville coming north for their first time in Savannah Nov. 18-19.
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a weekend pattern for Ghost Pirate home games, with all but seven home contests being on Friday or Saturdays.
Another round of home games comes roaring back in the month of December with five of six at home in two stretches, Dec. 1-3 at home against South Carolina and Orlando and going to the Stingrays Dec. 3. Dec. 8-10 brings Orlando to town for one game and the Everblades for a pair of games before a five-game road trip.
That’ll lead into the new year with a season-long road trip in January with six out of ten games on the road. That rigor evens out in February, however, with another season-long trend, this time a six-game in a row homestand that’s part of a 12-game span with nine at home. It’ll begin with Orlando and Atlanta at home and a trip to play the Gladiators Feb. 3-5 prior to at home against Cincinnati and South Carolina Feb. 10-11, Utah and Greenville Feb. 17-18, at Greenville on Feb, 19 and 22 before Fort Wayne makes its way to Savannah Feb. 24-25 and Worcester to follow on Feb. 26.
After a home game against Atlanta on March 3 and Florida on March 4-5, a back and forth home and away swing leads to five-game road trip in April before the season finale on April 15 against Orlando.
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