WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The Watertown Wolves provided an update on the status of the 2020-21 Federal Hockey League season Friday during a press conference at the Fairgrounds Ice Arena.
The season, which has been delayed several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was set to start in mid-January is being pushed back once again, this time to the beginning of February.
”Yeah, we proposed a schedule that’s basically based on playing each opponent only once and then playing a little bit more towards our closest opponents, which right now would be Elmira and Danbury, just to cut down on travel costs, cut down on the amount of COVID testing that’s needed, and just limiting the exposure really for the guys, plus allowing us to play more games. I mean, I think even over a 10 week regular season, we can get somewhere between 35 and 40 games,” said Watertown Wolves owner Andreas Johansson.
That schedule would put the Wolves on pace to play 3-4 games a week, unlike the traditional Federal Hockey League season where teams play on Friday and Saturday nights.
For the players, like Wolves captain Fred Hein, playing 2 or 4 games a week makes no difference as long as they’re playing hockey.
”I think it’s great, personally. Like, let’s play. You know, everyone’s been practicing, everyone’s been training, you know, we wanna play games. So if it’s 2, 3, 4 games in a row, whatever the schedule is. Perfect, let’s play games, let’s get going. I think it’s great, you know, it at times will be tough on the body,” said Hein.
Wolves Coach Brent Clarke knows the delay is a disappointment to Wolves fans, but says there are a number of reasons to push the start date back a couple of weeks.
”You know, if it’s gonna be safest for us to start February 5th, lets say, then that’s where we need to go. That way, you know, it gives us more time A) to get vaccines out, B) to get all the protocols that we need to line up for our season to keep all the players safe, and then C) obviously, getting the fans in here cause that’s what drives us every night,” said Clarke.
Besides announcing a delay to the start of the season, the Wolves also unveiled their new home and away uniforms for the 2020-21 season and announced that the Wolves Den Pro Shop will be open Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 5-7 PM for fans to purchase new Wolves gear, which includes jerseys and equipment as well.
“Fans can come in and buy not just jerseys but merchandise, tape, sticks. Really anything they want whether you’re playing hockey or you’re just a fan,” said Johansson.
“We got hockey sticks that are $300 in the store and I’m selling them for $75 to a hundred. So I mean- and they’re brand new with the plastic still on them. I mean, you can’t beat that,” said Johansson.