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Spokane Chiefs set to return for 24-game season on March 19

UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 5, 2021

Spokane Chiefs players celebrate after scoring a goal during a Jan. 3, 2020, game against Portland at the Spokane Arena. (Libby Kamrowski/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Spokane Chiefs players celebrate after scoring a goal during a Jan. 3, 2020, game against Portland at the Spokane Arena. (Libby Kamrowski/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

The Spokane Chiefs and the other four U.S. Division teams in the Western Hockey League will begin their shortened season on March 19, the league announced Friday.

Earlier in the extended offseason, the league announced its teams would play a 24-game schedule within divisions, rather than a usual 68-game season.

The U.S. Division schedule will be announced later.

Fans will not be allowed to attend games, according to the news release.

The league made its announcement after Washington state approved the league’s proposed health and safety protocols related to COVID-19 earlier in the week.

On Jan. 28, the WHL announced that its five clubs based in Alberta received approval to play beginning on Feb. 26. That means 10 of the league’s 22 teams have received approval to begin their abbreviated seasons.

When the Chiefs begin play, they will do so without three players who were loaned to United States Hockey League teams, including forwards Bear Hughes and Luke Toporowski, as well as goaltender Lukas Parik.

Two other Chiefs, NHL draftees Adam Beckman and Jack Finley, are playing with the American League affiliates of the clubs that drafted them, the Iowa Wild (Minnesota) and the Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay), respectively. Both are expected to return to the team for the WHL season.

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