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Wolves, AHL ready to play

The American Hockey League announced Monday that the 2020-21 regular season will begin Friday, Feb. 5. The Chicago Wolves are among the 28 teams ready to play a shortened season that features an adjusted divisional alignment.

The Wolves plan to play all home games at the Chicago Wolves training facility located in the Triphahn Community Center and Ice Arena in Hoffman Estates — marking the first time the team won’t compete at Allstate Arena in Rosemont. The Wolves will strictly adhere to all COVID-19 protocols in order to create a safe environment for practices and games, which means fans will not be allowed to attend until the Illinois Department of Public Health declares it safe to do so.

Chicago has been assigned to the AHL’s Central Division as usual, but the divisional setup features just six teams instead of the traditional eight. The Wolves are joined by the Cleveland Monsters, Grand Rapids Griffins, Iowa Wild, Rockford IceHogs and Texas Stars. The Milwaukee Admirals, a fierce rival for the last 26 seasons, are one of the three teams that opted out this season. The Manitoba Moose are shifting to a new four-team Canadian Division, which gives the AHL five divisions.

The official schedule will be released in the days to come. The regular season projects to conclude in mid-May.

“When the Wolves were founded in 1994, we built our organization on three guiding principles,” said Wolves general manager Wendell Young. “We wanted to be hockey for the fans, we wanted to compete for championships and we wanted to help people in our community.

“Because COVID-19 protocols prevent us from playing in front of our fans, one of our traditional motivations to play aren’t there. Despite that, we feel it’s important to play — not just for our franchise, but for the Carolina Hurricanes as well. We’re excited to get this season underway.”

The Wolves, who have earned four league championships and 10 division titles, enter their first season as partners with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. New head coach Ryan Warsofsky’s staff features fourth-year assistant Bob Nardella and first-year assistant Patrick Dwyer. Training camp will begin at a date to be determined.