(Files by Catherine Garrett-MyPGNow)
It’s game on.
The WHL says it has been granted approval by the province to play in two Hub Centers located in Kamloops and Kelowna — allowing the season to start March 26.
The province’s five dub-clubs will form the B.C. Division, including the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Prince George Cougars, Vancouver Giants, and Victoria Royals.
All B.C. games during the abbreviated 24 game season will be played within the two hub centers only, under an approved cross-Hub Center model.
The Prince George Cougars will be located at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops along with the Vancouver Giants and Kamloops Blazers.
Meanwhile, the Victoria Royals and Kelowna Rockets will be at Prospera Place in Kelowna.
“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,” said the league in today’s (Tuesday) announcement.
The teams will be allowed to travel directly between each hub with no stops permitted.
Players and staff will begin self quarantining on Saturday (March 6) before reporting to their respective hub centers on March 13.
They will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, followed by an additional quarantine period.
Players and staff will then undergo a second COVID-19 test before being permitted to engage in any team activity.
WHL Clubs are also committed to providing private PCR testing, conducted weekly, through DynaLIFE Medical Labs, to ensure no additional strain is placed on public health.
All private testing conducted in the B.C. Division will be processed and analyzed at DynaLIFE’s Alberta-based laboratory in Edmonton.
If a team has one or more players or staff test positive at any point in the season, the club will be required to suspend activities for a minimum of two weeks.
Enhanced screening for all players, team staff, and officials will also take place on a daily basis, including regular temperature screenings as well as symptom monitoring.
Masks must be worn by all WHL players at all times with the exception of when participating on ice for games and practices.
WHL coaches will be required to wear masks at all times, including while conducting practice and while behind the bench during games.
As the WHL returns to play in the B.C. Division, no spectators will be permitted to enter WHL facilities.
The WHL Central Division opened on February 26, while the East Division Hub Center in Regina starts on March 12 and the U.S. Division begins play on March 19.
The full schedule will be released at a later date.