NWHL releases 2021-2022 regular season schedule

Fans are expected back in the stands and we have another outdoor game on the schedule!

Today, the NWHL released details for the 2021-22 regular season, the seventh in league history.

The 2021-22 season kicks off with a big opening weekend on Nov. 6, 2021. Each team will play 20 regular season games, which means we’ll have 60 games of NWHL regular season hockey next year — each team played 24 games in 2019-20, before the Lake Placid season. Details about Season 7 broadcasts in addition to the preseason schedule, playoff dates, and special events are expected to roll out in the coming weeks.

NWHL announces dates for opening weekend

“A new era of the NWHL is less than 100 days away and we couldn’t be more excited,” said NWHL Commissioner Tyler Tumminia in the league’s release. “We look forward to building on the momentum generated during a historic Season 6 where our athletes showcased their skills before record-setting broadcast audiences and displayed their resiliency throughout challenging circumstances. But most importantly, Season 7 will be special because we get to share it with our passionate fans who will be back to cheer us on.”

The plan is for fans to be back in the stands, but we are still waiting for details on what that will look like in each rink. Of course, that plan can change based on vaccines, variants, and the realities surrounding sporting events in the pandemic.

From the league’s release:

The NWHL will adhere to all local, state, provincial, and federal guidelines as they pertain to COVID-19 to ensure the safest environments for all stakeholders. The league will share more specific protocols prior to any return to play. The 2021-22 NWHL regular season schedule is subject to change.

One of the most interesting details to emerge from today’s news is that the Metropolitan Riveters will play their first two games — during the NWHL’s opening weekend — at Mennen Arena in Morristown, New Jersey. After that, they will host visiting teams at the RWJ Barnabas Health Hockey House in Newark. This marks a return to the New Jersey Devils’ practice facility for the Riveters. It is also where the Riveters (and the Connecticut Whale) hosted their free-agent camps this summer.

The Six will have their first true home game at Toronto’s Canlan Ice Sports – York, which has six rinks and a seating capacity of 1,200 for its largest rink. We first heard it would be the home of the Six in October 2020.

Another highlight of the schedule is an outdoor showdown at the Buffalo Riverworks between the Buffalo Beauts and the visiting Six on February 21, 2022. This will be the second regular season outdoor game in NWHL history and the second at the Buffalo Riverworks. Last time around, we saw an unforgettable showdown between the Beauts and Riveters. This next outdoor game should set the stage for what the league is hoping will be a big rivalry between Buffalo and Toronto.

There are breaks in the schedule for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday — Canadian Thanksgiving is October 10th, before the season begins — and a holiday break that spans Christmas and New Year. There’s also a break for the weekend of Jan. 29, which seems like a likely target for the 2022 All-Star Weekend. So, that is another date to circle on the calendar and another announcement to look out for.

The regular season wraps on the weekend of March 12, with all six teams in action for two-game series. At the moment, there is no hard schedule for the women’s hockey tournament at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, but we know it will fall in the window of Feb. 4-20.

Who’s ready for some hockey?