FARGO — The Fargo Force has its return date.
The United States Hockey League announced Tuesday it is targeting Friday, Nov. 6, as the opening day for the 2020-21 season.
The regular season will last 54 games, shortened from the standard 62-game season, and will conclude on April 24, 2021. Exhibition contests will begin in mid-October.
The 2019-20 season was suspended and subsequently canceled during the regular season in March during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
"The Fargo Force are thrilled with the plan that was developed by the USHL Commissioner, Tom Garrity, and our league partners that will allow us to play hockey this fall," Fargo Force General Manager Cary Eades said in a press release. "We look forward to bringing our players to Fargo in mid-September to begin testing, training and eventually exhibition games in October. The entire league has worked very hard to create strict COVID-19 guidelines to safely make this happen and we are excited to get things started in a few weeks."
The shortened regular-season schedule allows the league some flexibility to move games to the back end of the season in case of "postponements, capacity restrictions, or other factors" according to a press release from the USHL.
The league said all activities will be designed to take place within local, state and federal guidelines and the league's official return to play protocols are still being finalized.
"We have created a plan to bring players to our markets and in order to safely begin development and ultimately competition," USHL President and Commissioner Tom Garrity said in a press release. "Should conditions change, this plan will allow our league the flexibility to react to new circumstances, and we will adjust accordingly."
Players are expected to start arriving in their home club's markets across a four-week period beginning Sept. 14. The league said it plans to release its full schedule for the season in the coming weeks.