Although the immediate future of the NHL seems quite uncertain, other leagues continue to push ahead accordingly.
Last week, the American Hockey League, the primary development circuit for the NHL, announced their full 2012-13 schedule. Opening night will occur on Oct. 12 with seven games on tap, including the Norfolk Admirals opening their defense of the Calder Cup championship at home against the Worchester Sharks.
In addition, two outdoor games are planned for the AHL this season as part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival in downtown Detroit prior to the Winter Classic. First, the Grand Rapids Griffins, minor league affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, will take on the Toronto Marlies, affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 30 at Comerica Park.
A second outdoor game will take place on Jan. 20 when the Hershey Bears host the Wilkses-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Hersheypark Stadium.
The Ontario Hockey League, one of the three Major Junior ice hockey leagues which constitute the Canadian Hockey League, will kick off their preseason early next month with regular season games scheduled to begin Thursday, Sept. 20. Eight teams will be in action that night, including the Windsor Spitfires, Oshawa Generals and the Niagara Icedogs.
Similarly, the other two leagues in the Canadian Hockey League, the Western Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, will begin their regular seasons on Sept. 20 as well.
The ECHL will kick off its regular season on Oct. 12 with eight games on tap. An additional 11 games will take place Oct. 13.
NCAA college hockey will also begin at the start of Oct. as well. The 2012 National Champion Boston College Eagles will begin their title defense on Saturday, Oct. 13 at Northeastern University.
The Great Lakes Invitational, an annual tournament featuring Michigan Tech, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and a rotating fourth participant, will also move outdoors this season to Comerica Park as part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival. This year’s GLI will feature Western Michigan University, making the tournament an all-inclusive comprised of Michigan teams.
Even if the NHL does stage a lockout or miss part of their season, there is plenty of North American hockey abound for fans to enjoy.