NWHL announces plan to start condensed 2021 season on Jan. 23

The NWHL is targeting January 2021 to return to play in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Gary Wiepert/AP)

The NWHL announced Wednesday its plan to run a condensed 2021 season and Isobel Cup Playoffs beginning on Jan. 23 and wrapping up Feb. 5 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

The league will be creating a bubble for its six teams -- Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, Metropolitan Riveters, Minnesota Whitecaps and expansion Toronto Six -- at the Herb Brooks Arena with no fans in attendance. The Yale Pathology Labs will provide regular COVID-19 testing with league protocols establish by the NWHL's partners at NYU Langone Health.

“The NWHL is excited to provide hockey fans a fast-paced schedule of thrilling games on the road to the Isobel Cup,” NWHL interim commissioner Tyler Tumminia said in a press release.

“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."

Teams will arrive separately in Lake Placid in a staggered schedule on Jan. 21 and 22 and begin playing games on the 23rd. Each club will play five games, one against every opponent, followed by a playoff round to determine the four teams that advance to the Isobel Cup Semifinals. The Cup Final will be played on Feb. 5.

Players who signed contracts this year for the NWHL season will be compensated in full, despite the condensed schedule. They were also given the chance to opt-out and still receive the entirety of their salary.

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