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AHL joins NHL in suspending season due to coronavirus

The Wolves won’t play a home game again until May 1 at the earliest.

Wolves defenseman Brett Lernout (right) and San Antonio center Ryan Olsen.
Provided by the San Antonio Rampage

Trying to find a way back into the Calder Cup playoffs, the Wolves were about to enter a challenging final stretch of the regular season.

Already 61 games deep into a campaign filled with growing pains and roster instability, the Wolves were set to play three times in three days this weekend. They were scheduled to have two more three-game weekends before the end of the season.

When the Wolves will face those exams is now unknown.

The American Hockey League joined the NHL and other prominent U.S. sports leagues in suspending its season Thursday due to concerns over the coronavirus.

The Wolves had key divisional games against San Antonio (Friday), Rockford (Saturday) and Manitoba, but they have been postponed. The team cited recommendations from Gov. Pritzker and top health officials in announcing all remaining home games will be suspended, in a release that came out before the league itself revealed its decision.

“Governor Pritzker has been working with leading public health experts to determine the best courses of action to prevent the further spread of COVID-19,” Wolves chairman Don Levin said in a statement. “We believe whole-heartedly in Gov. Pritzker’s recommendations and will do everything we can to keep this coronavirus from spreading.”

Counting this weekend, the Wolves had eight home games remaining, including what was supposed to be the April 11 regular-season finale with Manitoba.

”With the health and safety of our players, officials, staff and fans of primary importance, the American Hockey League has announced the suspension of play until further notice, effective immediately, due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic,” the league said in a release. “The AHL will continue to monitor developments and will provide updates on the 2019-20 season at the appropriate time.”

As recently as Wednesday, the Wolves were anticipating playing this weekend. They sent a news release explaining the precautions at Allstate Arena, stressing the Village of Rosemont’s prevention strategies.

But that release was sent before Wednesday’s events, when the NBA postponed its regular season after Utah’s Rudy Gobert was diagnosed with coronavirus. Since then, the NCAA has canceled all of its upcoming tournaments and MLB has announced its regular season will be pushed back, among other sports-related changes.

Thursday’s announcement said the team is working on “procedures to determine the best way to deliver credits and refunds to people who have purchased tickets for these postponed games.”

It also recommends season ticket holders contact account representatives immediately.