The ECHL is about to expand. The league’s board of governors has approved expansion applications for new teams in Coralville, Iowa, and Trois-Rivieres, Quebec for the 2021-22 season. Commissioner Ryan Crelin released a short statement:
This is an extremely exciting day for the ECHL and the future of our League, welcoming these two great markets and beautiful state-of-the-art facilities. We have a great history of working with Dean [MacDonald]’s ownership group and leadership team and look forward to bringing ECHL hockey to Trois-Rivieres and Coralville, making an impact as an asset to these communities.
Deacon Sports and Entertainment, led by MacDonald, will own both new franchises in addition to the Newfoundland Growlers. The two new franchises will take the league total to 28 for the 2021-22 season. According to the league, both teams will be playing in brand new facilities, called Xtreme Arena and LeNouveau Colisee respectively.
The 2020-21 season has been a struggle for the ECHL, with many of its teams opting out due to financial and health concerns. This news brings a ray of hope among the darkness that has been the past year. If everything goes according to plan, we’ll be able to see some extra minor league action in two new hockey-starved markets. It’s not clear yet where the teams will be placed division-wise, but it would certainly make sense to add a seventh team to both the North and Central divisions, which currently have fewer teams than the South and Mountain.