The Silvertips’ Gage Goncalves (left) and Bryce Kindopp celebrate a goal against Seattle during a game on March 8, 2020, in Kent. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The Silvertips’ Gage Goncalves (left) and Bryce Kindopp celebrate a goal against Seattle during a game on March 8, 2020, in Kent. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

New start date for Everett Silvertips’ season set

The WHL sets Jan. 8 as the new opening for the 2020-21 season; teams will only play division games.

Maybe the third time’s the charm for the Everett Silvertips’ season?

On Wednesday, the Western Hockey League announced a start date of Jan. 8, 2021, for the 2020-21 season. The league was originally scheduled to begin Sept. 25, but this past June the start was delayed to Oct. 2 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Then in August, the start date was delayed further to Dec. 4. The league will now try to begin its season just after the turn of the year.

“The WHL is very excited to be opening our WHL Regular Season on January 8,” WHL commissioner Ron Robison said in a press release. “The WHL is a world-class development league and we remain fully committed to providing our players with the highest level of training, coaching, and competition in the system.”

In addition, the league announced that all regular-season games during the 2020-21 season will be played within the boundaries of the four divisions. The U.S. Division, of which the Silvertips are members, consists of the five teams based in Washington and Oregon; the B.C. Division consists of the five B.C.-based teams; the Central Division consists of the five Alberta-based teams; and the East Division consists of the seven Saskatchewan and Manitoba-based teams.

The WHL said that a final determination has not been made as to whether spectators will be permitted at games and that it will be up to the approval of local health authorities in each jurisdiction. The league previously said that it would need to have attendance at least at 50% capacity to be financially viable.

As always, the new start date is subject to change.

“The WHL continues to work with each of the Governments and Health Authorities in the Provinces and States in Western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest, respectively, on obtaining the necessary approvals to commence play,” the league said in the press release. “Details regarding the schedule of games in each of the four WHL Divisions will be announces at a later date.”

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