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WHL adjusts regular-season schedule because of ongoing border restrictions

The Western Hockey League has been forced to adjust part of its 2021-22 regular-season schedule because of ongoing border restrictions.

On Wednesday, the WHL announced that with COVID-19 rules still preventing non-essential bus travel from Canada to the U.S., Western Conference teams will start the season by playing divisional opponents only.

The 10-team conference is split into two five-team divisions — one in B.C., and one in the U.S. — with inter-division play normally occurring throughout the season.

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But this year, there will be no inter-division play for the month of October, with B.C. teams only playing B.C. teams, and U.S. teams only playing U.S. teams.

However, the league did say intra-division play is expected to resume in November.

Earlier this year, the WHL announced that will be no inter-conference play this season as well, meaning teams east of the Rockies won’t be venturing west this year or vice-versa.

“The WHL continues to work with government and public health authorities in each of the six provincial and state jurisdictions located in WHL territory to ensure the health and safety of WHL players, staff, and officials, as well as the communities in which the WHL operates,” the league said in a press release.

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Also Wednesday, the WHL tweaked its B.C. Division pre-season schedule, as it added a Sept. 15 game (Kamloops at Prince George), but deleted two games (Sept. 15, Victoria at Kamloops; and Sept. 17, Prince George at Kamloops).

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For B.C. Division teams, the regular season starts Friday, Oct. 1, with the Vancouver Giants visiting the Kelowna Rockets. The next night, the Giants visit the Victoria Royals.

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