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Junior hockey: Kelowna Rockets to open shortened season against Victoria Royals

Seen here celebrating a goal last season, the Kelowna Rockets will host the Victoria Royals when their COVID-19 shortened season starts on Friday, March 26. Marissa Baecker / Shoot the Breeze

The Kelowna Rockets will be facing a familiar foe when the puck finally drops for their shortened season later this month.

In what will be one of two opening games for B.C. Division teams on Friday, March 26th, Kelowna will host Victoria, with Kamloops hosting Vancouver in the other match.

Earlier this month, provincial health officials gave the WHL’s five B.C. teams the green light to play. Game time between Kelowna and Victoria at Prospera Place is 7:05 p.m.

Read more: Coronavirus: Kelowna, Kamloops to host hub centres as WHL’s B.C. Division gets green light to play

In Alberta, some Central Division teams have already played four games each, while action in the East Division is slated to start this Friday, March 12. The five American teams in the U.S. Divison will begin their season on Thursday, March 18.

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In B.C., the province’s five teams will play in two hub centres: Kelowna and Kamloops, with all games taking place in those two cities.

Following their season opener against Victoria, Kelowna will visit Kamloops to play Vancouver on Sunday, March 28, then will host Kamloops on Tuesday, March.

To view the WHL schedule, click here.

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The WHL says to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19, temperature screening, mask-wearing and regular testing will be implemented.

“The WHL has developed an extensive set of protocols and believe the protective hub environment will provide a high standard of safety, not only for players and staff but the Kamloops and Kelowna communities at large,” the league said in a press release.

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The league noted that players and staff will have to wear masks at all times, except when they’re on the ice.

Players began self-isolating last Saturday, and will be reporting to their respective teams this coming Saturday.

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