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Kelowna Rockets hopeful for WHL’s promised 24-game season

Click to play video 'Kelowna Rockets hopeful for WHL’s promised 24-game season' Kelowna Rockets hopeful for WHL’s promised 24-game season
Kelowna Rockets hopeful for WHL’s promised 24-game season – Jan 13, 2021

There’s a new promise of junior hockey at Kelowna’s Prospera Place for 2021, and it comes straight from the top.

Western Hockey League commissioner Ron Robison recently announced that the board of governors has made a commitment to play a 24-game regular season this year.

“This commitment ensures WHL players will receive the opportunity to compete at the highest level in the system and continue to pursue their hockey goals in the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players,” said Robison.

Read more: WHL commits to playing 2020-21 season, start date to be determined

The announcement, made last Friday, comes after the league had earlier pushed its start date back several times because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Kelowna Rockets president and general manager Bruce Hamilton has chaired the league’s board of governors since 2008.

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He said the board’s decision to make a verbal commitment to play this season was important.

“We just thought that it was important that we let our players know that we’re going to do everything we can to get some kind of a season in for them,” Hamilton told Global News.

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Kelowna Rockets’ season ‘on ice’ for now after WHL delays season start once again – Dec 16, 2020

It appears letting the players know was a good decision.

“We’ve waited a long time to hear some positive news,” said Kelowna Rockets forward Alex Swetlikoff.

“Personally, I just can’t wait to be in a team environment again, playing and practicing at Prospera. I can’t wait for that day.”

However, when the puck will drop on the promised season is yet to be determined.

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“Probably it won’t be until the end of February, early March,” said Hamilton.

Further, the Rockets’ GM said the WHL will still need approval from B.C. public health officials.

“It will all depend, as usual, on (provincial health officer) Dr. Henry,” Hamilton said.

According to Hamilton, the 24-game season will probably take about 60 days to complete.
Teams would have a 21-day or 28-day training camp that would include a quarantine period for all players.
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Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton on the WHL’s decision to pause the regular season – Mar 12, 2020
And in order to limit possible exposure to the coronavirus and cut down on costs, teams would only play against other teams from within their same province or state.
“We may look at some kind of a setup where we would move one or two teams into Kamloops and one team into here and then limit the travel,” Hamilton said. 
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For now, though, Hamilton is just hoping that COVID-19 cases decrease in order to give the public health office an opportunity to approve the season.