THUNDER BAY – Making the playoffs just got a little tougher for a Thunder Bay Chill team that’s been on the outside looking in for the past two summers.
With the USL 2 now up to 79 teams across North America, the league has been forced to reconfigure its conferences, leading to three divisions in the Central Conference, up one from last season.
Instead of two teams from each division making the playoffs, now one team from each division in the conference will have a shot to play for the championship, along with the team with the next best record.
“This definitely makes it more difficult to make the playoffs,” said Chill coach Giovanni Petraglia, set to enter his sixth season guiding the franchise, which enters its 21st season in the league in 2020.
The Chill last made the USL2 postseason in 2017, dropping the championship game to the host Charlotte Eagles.
The team on Friday also unveiled this year’s schedule.
The Chill will open league play at home against FC Manitoba on May 29 and May 30, a team formerly known as WSA Winnipeg.
The homestand continues on June 5 against the Green Bay Voyageurs, before the Chill hits the road for three against St. Louis, Kaw Valley and Des Moines from June 11 to June 14.
They’re back home on June 19 and June 20 against Des Moines and Peoria, an expansion team joining the Chicago Fire in the revamped Heartland Division.
The Chill then head out on the road for four more games, with stops in Green Bay, Chicago, Kaw Valley and St. Louis, returning to Thunder Bay to wrap up the season against Kaw Valley and the St. Louis Lions on July 7 and July 8.
The 2020 campaign also marks the return to Tbaytel Field at Chapples Park after a multi-year absence while repairs were made to the drainage system on the pitch. In the interim the team called Fort William Stadium home.
“We are very happy to move back to Chapples as it allows us to service our fans in different ways,” said Chill president Tony Colistro.
“Fans will be able to purchase general seating tickets, but also VIP seats and newly field covered seats.”
Season tickets go on sale on Feb. 1 and can be made by phoning 623-5911 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.