The ECHL, in conjunction with the Professional Hockey Players’ Association, announced today that the 2020-21 Season will commence on December 11, 2020 under a split-season format.
Under the split-season guidelines, the following teams will begin a 72-game season on December 11th: Allen, Florida, Greenville, Indy, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Orlando, Rapid City, South Carolina, Tulsa, Utah, Wheeling, and Wichita.
Additionally, remaining ECHL teams will begin their Season on January 15, 2021, competing in a 62-game season upon jurisdictional approval.
The Atlanta Gladiators have elected to take a Voluntary Suspension for the 2020-21 Season due to COVID-19 restrictions, returning to play in the 2021-22 Season. All Atlanta Gladiators Players are immediately Free Agents for the 2020-21 Season
“The ECHL is excited to be able to confirm the beginning of the 2020-21 Season by working with our local health officials and the PHPA to develop protocols for the safe return of our Players, fans, and employees,” said ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin. “The ECHL is getting back to hockey, as we all work together to bring live entertainment back to our communities.”
“Our ECHL Members have been looking forward to getting back on the ice since March 16 and providing the fans with exciting hockey in a safe environment,” said PHPA Executive Director Larry Landon. “I would like to thank Ryan Crelin, the ECHL Board of Governors and the commitment from our Return to Play Committee including Jake Flegel, Josh Holmstrom, Steven Kaunisto, Justin Taylor, and Riley Weselowski.”
In light of today’s announcement, the Toledo Walleye have rescheduled Winterfest from December 2020 to December 2021.
“This is not an announcement we wanted to make, and we waited as long as we could to make it,” said Toledo Walleye President and CEO Joe Napoli. “With the new anticipated split-season and the Walleye opting to begin in January, our entire focus is to safely get hockey back into the Huntington Center. We continue to work with the Lucas-County Health Department and the State of Ohio to get clearance and a better understanding of seating capacities for both the upcoming Walleye and Mud Hens season.”
Winterfest 2020 was originally scheduled to run from December 17, 2020-January 3, 2021 and feature two outdoor Walleye games at Fifth Third Field.
“Winterfest is a premier event not only for the Walleye, but for the City of Toledo and our entire community,” said Neil Neukam, Toledo Walleye general manager and executive vice president. “Following the tremendous success of the first Winterfest in 2015, we want Winterfest 2021 to have the same energy, excitement and impact.
Nearly 60,000 people attended events at Fifth Third Field ruing the 10 days of Winterfest in 2015 and the economic impact to county businesses was estimated at $9-$11 Million.
The specific dates for Winterfest 2021 will be announced at a later time. The ECHL regular season will conclude on June 6, 2021. A schedule for games from December 11, 2020 - January 14, 2021 will be announced in the near future.
Under this split-season scenario, League standings will be based on winning percentage during the regular season. The post-season format will be based on the eligible competing teams in the regular season and will be announced at a later date.