Hamilton Bulldogs begin defence of AHL title against Rochester Americans

The Bulldogs, the Montreal Canadiens’ top farm team, will then host Rochester in their home opener at Copps Coliseum on Oct. 12. The American Hockey League 2007-08 schedule, released Tuesday, features a record 1,160 games, beginning Oct. 3 and concluding April 13. Each of the league’s 29 clubs will play 80 games, 40 at home and 40 on the road.

For the eighth year in a row, the regular season opens with a game at the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza, as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins play host to the Hershey Bears.

New teams this year include the Quad City Flames, affiliated with the Calgary Flames. They open at home to another new club, the Rockford IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks) on Oct. 6.

The IceHogs play their first nine games of the season on the road before hosting San Antonio at the newly renovated Rockford MetroCentre on Nov. 2.

The other new team is the Lake Erie Monsters (Colorado Avalanche), who open against visiting Grand Rapids on Oct. 6.

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The Toronto Marlies (Maple Leafs) open at home Oct. 6 against the Rochester Americans. The Manitoba Moose (Vancouver Canucks) begin at home to Grand Rapids on Oct. 11.

With a divisional format again in place for the 2008 Calder Cup playoffs, more than two-thirds of this year’s schedule (782 of 1,160) will feature games between division rivals.

The top four teams in each division will qualify for the 2008 post-season, with one possible exception: if the fifth-place team in the West Division finishes with more points than the fourth-place team in the North Division, it would cross over and compete in the North Division playoffs.

The Binghamton Senators and the city of Binghamton, N.Y., will host the 2008 all-star classic at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena, Jan. 27-28.