WHL pushes start date back to January

Prince Albert Raiders fans will have to wait a little bit longer before they get to see Western Hockey League games again at the Art Hauser Centre.

The WHL announced on Wednesday afternoon that the upcoming regular season will now open on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021.

The previous start date for the 2020-21 campaign was set for Dec. 4, 2020.

“The WHL is very excited to be opening our WHL Regular Season on Jan. 8,” WHL Commissioner Ron Robison said in a prepared statement. “The WHL is a world-class development league and we remain fully committed to providing our players with the highest level of training, coaching, and competition in the system.”

The league also announced that all regular season games will take place within the boundaries of their four divisions, which is similar to the format that is currently used by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The one major change involves the East Division, as the Swift Current Broncos will move from the Central Division to play the other four teams in Saskatchewan (Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders, Regina Pats and Saskatoon Blades) and the two Manitoba-based clubs (Brandon Wheat Kings and Winnipeg Ice).

The Central Division will feature the league’s Alberta clubs (Calgary Hitmen, Edmonton Oil Kings, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Medicine Hat Tigers and Red Deer Rebels), while the B.C. Division (Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Prince George Cougars, Vancouver Giants and Victoria Royals) and U.S. Division (Everett Silvertips, Portland Winterhawks, Seattle Thunderbirds, Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans) remain intact.

All players in the league will report to their teams after the Christmas break to start training camp before the season begins.

Details regarding the full schedule and if fans will be able to attend games will be announced at a later date.