San Diego Gulls team members. Courtesy of the team

The San Diego Gulls announced Monday that the minor league hockey team will temporarily play its 2020-21 season home games at FivePoint Arena at Great Park Ice in Irvine due to COVID-19 health protocols.

Joe Spurrier, a spokesman for the team, said the Gulls would move temporarily to Orange County to ensure all teams operating in the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks organization are in one location and under the same health protocols. The Gulls are the minor-league affiliate of the Ducks.

“The Gulls are committed to San Diego long-term and will return to Pechanga Arena San Diego as soon as it is feasible for the organization and deemed safe by local and state health officials to welcome back fans to the arena,” Spurrier said. “We eagerly await the start of the upcoming season and look forward to playing in front of America’s finest fans as soon as possible.”

Several other teams have relocated for similar reasons, American Hockey League President and CEO Scott Howson said Monday, including the Ontario Reign, which will play in El Segundo. Additionally, the Binghamton Devils will play in Newark, New Jersey, and the Providence Bruins will play in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

Three teams — the Charlotte Checkers, Milwaukee Admirals, and Springfield Thunderbirds — have opted out of play for the 2020-21 season. All three teams plan to return to play in 2021-22.

The Gulls will continue play in the Pacific Division, which also includes the Bakersfield Condors, Colorado Eagles, Henderson Silver Knights, Ontario Reign, San Jose Barracuda, Stockton Heat and Tucson Roadrunners.

The Gulls were tied for third in the seven-team Pacific Division with Stockton — which had played two fewer games — when play was suspended March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The top four teams in each division qualify for the playoffs. Six home games were canceled due to the pandemic.

— City News Service

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