PORTLAND, Maine — Hockey fans in Maine can rejoice; the Maine Mariners will have a 2020-21 season after play was suspended due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The ECHL announced an agreement with the Professional Hockey Players' Association on Friday, allowing teams, including the Maine Mariners franchise, to start the 2020-21 season.
Under a split-season schedule, the Mariners will begin play on January 15, 2020.
The first set of teams will begin a 72-game season on December 11 – Allen, Florida, Greenville, Indy, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Orlando, Rapid City, South Carolina, Tulsa, Utah, Wheeling, and Wichita.
The Mariners and the rest of the North division will begin their season on January 15, 2021, playing a 62-game season upon regional approval.
Maine Mariners Vice President of Operations, Danny Briere said the teams had to take the smart approach.
"Due to the current indoor capacity restrictions in the state of Maine, as well as similar challenges faced by each of our divisional opponents, we concluded a January 15 start was the most realistic possibility," said Briere.
The ECHL also announced one team will not compete in the 2020-21 season but will return for the 2021-22 season.
According to the league, the Atlanta Gladiators have decided not to play the 2020-21 season because of COVID-19 restrictions. All Atlanta players will be free agents for the 2020-21 season.
According to the Mariners website, the ECHL regular season will end on June 6, 2021.
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, according to the Maine Mariners website.