They won’t be the only ones, as the 12-team collegiate summer league opted to expand the schedule from 48 games to 56, with the additional four home games for each team slotted into an extra week of play at the beginning of August.
While the new schedule is largely balanced with major home stands and long road trips following one another closely, the simple lack of days off – only 13 through two-and-a-half months of play – is a bit of a concern for Miller Express general manager Cory Olafson.
“With the extra eight games, that doesn’t leave a lot of room if something happens,” he said. “I’m not optimistic that every team is going to play all 56 this season. Its unchartered waters, so we’ll see what happens.”
Naturally, the biggest potential issue is the weather. Rain-outs could be especially detrimental, even more so with long road trips between the two divisions.
“You throw some rain in there and a team misses even two games in a row, it’s going to be a problem,” Olafson said. “It’s going to be hectic for sure and a challenge to fit them all in, but here’s hoping.”
The Miller Express kick off their campaign on Wednesday, May 29 at Ross Wells Park when they host the Melville Millionaires, followed by a home-and-home series with Swift Current on May 30 and 31 and a two game series with Yorkton on the first weekend of the season June 1 and 2 before their first day off on June 3.
Their longest home stand is a five-game run from June 8 to June 14 that includes a three-game set with Okotoks as well as a pair of off-days on June 9 and 10.
The Millers hit the road for a six-games-in-six-nights swing beginning Canada Day in Edmonton for three games followed by a trio of games in Fort McMurray.
The regular season ends with a home-and-home series on Aug. 4 and 5 against Weyburn.
In order to accommodate the expanded schedule before players have to return to college, the WCBL has opted to shorten the playoffs to best-of-three series from best-of-five, with games beginning the week after the regular season ends.