The Bridgeport Sound Tigers will play this season, but like their NHL counterparts, it will be in front of an empty arena.
The AHL released its 2021 schedule on Friday for what league president Scott Howson described as “a season unlike any other in our 85-year history.” The Sound Tigers will play 24 games this year and only face the Providence Bruins and Hartford Wolfpack.
The Sound Tigers are playing in the smallest of the five AHL divisions this season, with only two other teams in it.
Bridgeport will play all of its home games at Webster Bank Arena, but no fans will be allowed in the building. The team is providing season ticket holders with complimentary subscriptions to AHLTV this season, the Sound Tigers said in a press release.
WE'RE BACK. 👊🏼
— Bridgeport Sound Tigers (@thesoundtigers) January 22, 2021
“While we would be thrilled to have an arena full of cheering fans watching the Sound Tigers play, the health and safety of our fans, players and employees remain the organization’s top priority,” Bridgeport President of Business Operations Brent Rossi said in a media release. “In accordance with state and local protocols regarding public gatherings, the team will play without fans in attendance. All games will continue to be broadcast live through the AHLTV platform and the team’s online radio network.”
The Sound Tigers will open the season on the road against Providence on Feb. 5. They won’t play their first home game until Feb.13 when they host Providence at Webster Bank Arena.
“Our priorities are first and foremost health and safety,” Howson said in a statement about the upcoming season. “Our main objective is to provide a safe environment for our players to continue their development towards a career in the National Hockey League.”
The AHL had been working towards putting together some form of a season for some time now. Three of its member clubs relocated for the 2020-21 season, including Providence which will play in Marlborough, Mass.