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Western Hockey League U.S. Division approved to start 2020-21 season

CALGARY — The Western Hockey League announced on Friday that its U.S. Division can begin a 2020-21 regular season following approval from the state of Washington. 

The WHL says the U.S. Division's five American teams — the Everett Silvertips, Seattle Thunderbirds, Spokane Chiefs, Tri-City Americans and Portland Winterhawks — will play games exclusively within the division beginning March 19. The league added that the modified schedule for the U.S. Division will be announced at a later date. 

The Winterhawks, who play out of Portland, Ore., are the lone team among the five to not be based in Washington.

It is unclear where the Winterhawks will be calling home, with the WHL only mentioning approval from Washington.

The team has not put out a statement regarding home games and the league did not respond to a request for comment on the situation.

The 22-team WHL plans to play a rejigged 24-game season this year, but is still waiting on government approval in certain regions. 

The league announced Jan. 28 that its five clubs based in Alberta — the Red Deer Rebels, Edmonton Oil Kings, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Medicine Hat Tigers and Calgary Hitmen — received government approval and will form a Central Division, playing the entire 24-game season in Alberta starting on Feb. 26. 

The WHL also has clubs in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and B.C., 

The league previously said in a statement that it's still working to get approval to play from government and health authorities in those jurisdictions so start dates can be set for an East Division and B.C. Division.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published February 5, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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