The Federal Prospects Hockey League officially announced its schedule for the 2023-24 regular season today. The FPHL will enter its fourteenth season with eleven teams after the Delaware Thunder chose to go dormant instead of relocating to New Jersey as had been rumored. That sent the schedule into a bit of flux at the last minute but it is now finalized. Once again, each team will play 56 games, 28 each at home and on the road.
For the Motor City Rockers, that means the franchise's second season is set to take off in late October. After opening at home last season, the Rockers open on the road this season but it's against their closest rival, the Port Huron Prowlers. For a less than an hour drive up I-94, Rockers fans can still check out their team as the puck drops on a new season. And they better get used to seeing a lot of Port Huron again, as the two teams will play each other a whopping eighteen times, eight in Fraser and ten in Port Huron. After the two game set at McMorran Arena, the Rockers return to Fraser for their home opening weekend at Big Boy Arena October 27th and 28th against the new Wytheville, Virginia franchise. Rockers fans had better savor those two games however, as Motor City plays twelve of their first fifteen games on the road, including an eight game road trip from 11/22 to 12/8. That script gets reversed in February though, when Motor City has a nine game home stand starting 2/17 through 3/10. In fact, overall they play eleven of twelve at home during this stretch with the lone road game in nearby Port Huron. This should be a crucial stretch of the season for playoff positioning and Motor City will be at home for over a month, something they must capitalize on.
Judging from fan comments on Facebook and Instagram, there are a lot of FPHL fans across the league unhappy with the schedule this season. In fact, Port Huron will be the only team that faces every other team in the league at least once. In the case of the Rockers, Motor City does not play a single game all season against the new expansion team in Baton Rouge, or the Mississippi Sea Wolves. That's a shame as the Rockers and Sea Wolves had developed a little bit of a rivalry by season's end. More frustrating to me, the defending Commissioner's Cup Champion Danbury Hat Tricks don't make a single trip to Fraser this season, although the Rockers go there for two games at the start of December. In fact, Danbury never sets foot in Michigan all season as Port Huron has to travel there twice, but never hosts them once. I completely understand the league trying to cut down on travel budgets, the last thing I want to see is a team unable to continue to operate due to prohibitive travel costs. But as a fan, it stinks that three of the other ten teams in the league will never skate a second in Big Boy Arena this season. This is not a Motor City problem, let me make that clear. Every fan base in the league is commenting on what they will miss this season, some with more vitriol than others. For me, I get it, it won't affect my attendance at games or support of the team, but I don't have to be thrilled about not seeing nearly a third of the opposing teams in the league all season.
As for who Motor City will be playing, here is how things shake out. As mentioned, Rockers fans will get to see their biggest rivals Port Huron eight times in Fraser. Surprisingly, the other team that plays here eight times will be the expansion Wytheville franchise, while Motor City only has to travel there once for a set of games in January. The Columbus River Dragons make the trek to metro Detroit to play four games against the Rockers, while Motor City plays three down in Georgia. The Binghamton Black Bears play here three times, while the Rockers play two games there. The new Elmira team is in Fraser for a pair of games right before Christmas, while Motor City plays there four times. The two times Motor City hosts the Watertown Wolves in March could be of interest to fans of former Rocker goalie Travis Ridgen as he was acquired by the Wolves via trade this past week. Keep in mind, March is a long way off and Ridgen still has to earn his spot on the Watertown roster, but definitely something to keep an eye out for if he does. The Rockers meanwhile will play five games in Watertown. December 15th will be another notable date as it is the only time Motor City plays the defending Continental Division Champion Carolina Thunderbirds all season, with this lone match coming in Fraser.
The Rockers will once again host Port Huron on New Year's Eve at Big Boy Arena, with a 2:05pm faceoff set. This was one of the best attended games of last season, so definitely one to look forward to this season. All of Motor City's home games this year will take place on the weekend, with eleven Friday night games, twelve Saturday games and five Sunday afternoon contests. Weeknight games are a tough draw and they had a few last season so I'm glad to see the weekend-heavy schedule for 23-24. Despite some of the issues with the league's schedule, I guarantee you once the season rolls around and the action starts again, most of that will be forgotten when we have games and rivalries to debate.
You can view the complete schedule on the Motor City Rockers website here.