The National Collegiate Hockey Conference will open the season with all eight of its league members playing 10 games each (a combined total of 40) in Omaha's Baxter Arena.

Those games will occur during a three-week stretch beginning Dec. 1 in what the league is calling the NCHC Pod.

Although NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton said no final decision has been made on whether fans will be allowed to attend those games, it is unlikely the general public will be there.

In January, games will return to campuses.

UND will host eight league games after the New Year. Three will be against Omaha, while two or three will be against Colorado College and two or three will be against Denver.

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The NCHC will not dictate a uniform policy to all of its members about whether fans will be allowed -- and if so, how many -- in the second half.

"The decisions for fans at venues across our conference will be made by institutions in conjunction with their local health authorities," Fenton said. "We haven't taken an official stance from the conference standpoint."

At the moment, it may be difficult to envision fans attending college hockey games in Ralph Engelstad Arena this season. Coronavirus cases and deaths are spiking in North Dakota to the highest levels in the country, while hospital capacity is at a critical point.

But it is mid-October now, and it will be, at a minimum, 11 weeks until any games are scheduled for Grand Forks. The prevalence of virus in North Dakota could change by then.

UND and Ralph Engelstad Arena officials are currently exploring different options and seating charts based on different potential levels of fans.

"Right now, we're in the preliminary stages of what that's going to look like in January," Ralph Engelstad Arena general manager Jody Hodgson said. "We're loosely working on mitigation strategies. . . what are things we'd have to do. Realistically, we don't know what that means yet. We're going to prepare plans at different levels based on what local conditions are like at the time. Nothing is off the table at this point."

The North Dakota State football team hosted a game earlier this month in the Fargodome. After initially planning for more than 8,000 fans at the game, NDSU officials pulled the plug to the general public because of the high coronavirus numbers in the state. Only family members attended.

"There's been no determination if fans will be present," Hodgson said. "We are absolutely going to try to implement a plan that will allow fans to be there, but we know there are many variables involved in that. We want people to be there. We're working on what things you have to do to be able to do that."

Ralph Engelstad Arena sent out a survey to season-ticket holders last month, asking various questions about the comfort level of attending games and what mitigation strategies they want to see in place.

On Wednesday, UND sent out a release, giving fans different options for 2020-21 season tickets. Those options include holding onto them and waiting for more information, donating the purchase to scholarships or deferring them to the 2021-22 season. Those with questions are asked to email

"This is a fluid season ticket plan and subject to change due to the everchanging landscape of college athletics today," the release stated.