Add the National Women’s Hockey League to the list of professional sports leagues getting creative in order to hold a season during the coronavirus pandemic.
The NWHL announced on Wednesday its plan to hold its entire 2021 season and playoffs at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y., between Jan. 23 and Feb. 5. The Herb Brooks Arena was the site of the US men’s national hockey team’s “Miracle on Ice” that included a stunning upset of Russia in the 1980 Olympics, and the US team was coached by Brooks.
The league’s six teams – Boston Pride, Minnesota Whitecaps, Metropolitan Riveters, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, and first-year expansion team Toronto Six – will arrive in Lake Placid on Jan. 21 and 22.
Each team will play five games, followed by a playoff round to determine the semifinals. The semifinal winners will play for the Isobel Cup on Feb. 5.
“The NWHL is excited to provide hockey fans a fast-paced schedule of thrilling games on the road to the Isobel Cup,” said NWHL interim commissioner Tyler Tumminia. “The continued challenges brought by the pandemic resulted in a mandate for our league, players, and partners to collaborate on creating a controlled environment protecting the health of everyone involved.”
Players were given the opportunity to opt out of the condensed season, but the NWHL said more than 95 percent of its players have chosen to participate. All players and staff will be tested regularly for COVID-19.
Players who signed contracts for the 2021 NWHL season will be paid in full, the league said. Players who opted out will also be paid.
The complete schedule, broadcast information, and additional details will be made available in the weeks leading up to the season.