The Western Hockey League released its U.S. Division schedule on Wednesday, and aside from the limited number of games and opponents, it looks just about how a schedule would look in a normal season.
The Spokane Chiefs are scheduled to begin play March 19 with games at Seattle, Everett and Portland on back-to-back-to-back nights.
Opening night at the Spokane Arena – where, like the rest of the league’s venues, no fans will be allowed – will be March 26 against Seattle.
With the season set to end May 9, the Chiefs are scheduled to play 24 games over a span of 52 days, just about the pace of normal 68-game seasons. Eighteen games are scheduled for weekends.
If the schedule holds, the Chiefs will play the Tri-City Americans eight times, the Everett Silvertips six times and the other two U.S. teams – the Portland Winterhawks and the Seattle Thunderbirds – five times apiece.
No postseason plans have been announced.
Three of the league’s four divisions, including 17 of its 22 teams, are planning to play this season. Each is handling the return differently.
The Alberta teams are slated to begin playing games this weekend, with games scheduled only on Fridays and Saturdays. The league has only announced the first two weekends of games for those five Central Division teams.
The seven WHL teams in the East Division are scheduled to begin playing on March 12 in what the league calls a “hub center” in Regina, Saskatchewan. Their 24-game schedule has not been announced.
If the five teams in British Columbia are going to play, the league has not announced a plan for how and when they will do so this season.
Chiefs players are scheduled to arrive in Spokane later this week in the next phase of their quarantine. On March 5, they are expected to open a two-week development camp.
The league plans “enhanced screening” for players, billets, team staff and officials on a daily basis, according to the league’s release. During games, players will be required to wear gaiter-style masks on the bench. Coaches and team staff will be required to wear masks at all times.
If, during the season, a player or staff member returns a confirmed positive COVID-19 test, the entire team must suspend activities for at least 14 days, according to the league’s protocol. Players will be tested three times per week.
The league also announced its new streaming service – WHL Live on CHL TV – which will give subscribers access to all of the league’s games this season for $59.99. It will also offer 24-hour access passes for $6.99.
Home openers for each team will be available to watch for free through the service.
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