The National Women’s Hockey League announced their plans for the upcoming 2021 season. They announced the season and Isobel Cup Playoffs will take place inside a bubble in Lake Placid, New York. In addition, the NWHL announced the season will take place between January 23 – February 5th, 2021. The season is being put on thanks to a partnership with the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA).
The National Women’s Hockey League today announced a plan to play the upcoming season and 2021 Isobel Cup Playoffs at the 1980 Rink-Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, NY
— NWHL (@NWHL) November 25, 2020
NWHL To Play In Lake Placid
This should not come much of a surprise considering the environment we are living in with COVID-19. The NHL, NBA, WNBA, NWSL, and other leagues have shown the bubble environment works. This is the best way to get a season started and finished. And Lake Placid is the perfect place to host games. There is so much history in Lake Placid and it is a hockey hotbed for tournaments.
According to Interim Commissioner Tyler Tumminia, who led the Lake Placid project since taking over in mid-October, the goal of the NWHL bubble season is to play in a protective environment. The league is prioritizing the health and safety of the players, staff, and surrounding community.
“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, in a press release Wednesday morning. “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. At a time of hyper-growth for girls’ and women’s hockey, we see this season as a celebration of the sport. This will be a historic moment as the hallowed arena that was the site of the “Miracle on Ice” in 1980 hosts its first women’s professional championship. It is a proud moment for the NWHL, the players, and all hockey fans.”
What The Season Will Look Like
Like we are seeing with the World Junior Championships, the six NWHL teams Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, Metropolitan Riveters, Minnesota Whitecaps, and Toronto Six will arrive separately in Lake Placid on a staggered schedule on January 21st and January 22nd. The games will be played with no fans in attendance. As mentioned before this format will be similar to what the WNBA and NWSL did and saw an increase in television viewership, streaming, apparel sales, and fan engagement.
Beginning Jan. 23, they will each play five games (one against each team in the league). All games are going to take place on the 1980 Rink inside Herb Brooks Arena. Following the season there will be a playoff round. This will determine the four teams advancing to the Isobel Cup Semifinals. The single-game Semifinals will feature the top-seeded team against the fourth-place team, with the teams, ranked second and third facing each other. The winners of the Semifinals will advance to the Isobel Cup Final on Friday, Feb. 5.
According to the league, despite there being a condensed season, all players who are currently under contract will be paid in full. The NWHL gave players the option to opt-out of their return to play tournament and still receive their full salary. As of now, more than 95 percent of the players have committed to play in the upcoming season. This will allow each team to play with a full roster.
In the coming weeks, the NWHL will release additional details including the complete schedule and broadcast information.
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