WHL receives approval for B.C. Division hub centres in Kamloops and Kelowna

All four divisions in the Western Hockey League will be on the ice this season.

Following announcements that the Central, East and U.S. Divisions had received approval to return to action over the last month, the league revealed on Tuesday that the B.C. Division will compete in hubs located in Kamloops and Kelowna starting on Friday, March 26.

“The WHL appreciates the cooperation we have received from the provincial health officer (Dr. Bonnie Henry) and health officials in B.C. as we work toward a safe return to play in the B.C. Division,” WHL commissioner Ron Robison said in a prepared statement.

“With our extensive protocols and the necessary approvals now in place, we are looking forward to play beginning in the Kamloops and Kelowna hubs. We are excited to now have all four WHL Divisions returning to play as it was our objective from the onset to deliver a season for all of our players.”

The Kamloops Blazers, Prince George Cougars and Vancouver Giants will be based out of a hub centre in Kamloops, while the Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals will set up shop in a hub centre located in Kelowna.

“As a result of facility capacity limitations, it was determined a dual hub center model was the most appropriate to allow for the effective implementation of WHL Return to Play protocols and the highest level of risk mitigation,” the league said in a press release.

“WHL clubs will be permitted to travel directly between each B.C. Division hub center for game play, with no stops permitted between the hub centers.”

A 24-game regular season schedule will begin on March 26, with no fans allowed at either the Sandman Centre in Kamloops and Prospera Place in Kelowna.

The 2020-21 WHL campaign started last Friday with Central Division contests in Alberta.

The East Division, which features the Prince Albert Raiders, will begin play at the Brandt Centre in Regina on March 12, with the U.S. Division opening up their slate on March 18 in Washington.