A Western Hockey League season like no other is underway as four of the five teams in the Central Division were able to get in two games this past weekend. The U.S. Division will begin to play on Thursday, March 18 when the Portland Winterhawks battle the Tri-City Americans.
Meanwhile, B-C's Health Minister Adrian Dix says a plan has been approved in principle to allow the Western Hockey League to resume operations in the province. Dix says that a "series of variances'' are still required from public health authorities, but he expects the five teams in the league's B-C Division the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Prince George Cougars, Vancouver Giants and Victoria Royals to play this season.
The two Manitoba teams in the WHL -- the Brandon Wheat Kings and Winnipeg ICE -- will compete in the seven-team East Division which is scheduled to begin play on Friday, March 12 inside the Regina Hub.
And with the new season less than two weeks away, the Brandon Wheat Kings have named their final roster. It includes the likes of captain Braden Schneider, star forward Ridly Greig, and Ben McCartney, just to name a few. Also on the list is a young man that grew up watching the Wheat Kings as Tyson Zimmer prepares for his first WHL campaign.
Tyson says he's ready for the opportunity to become an everyday impact player.
"It means a lot, this is such a great organization and the fact that I'm a part of it, it's an honour," said Zimmer. "I'll take full pride in being a Wheat King and I'll work as hard as I can to help this team win."
After all Wheat King players quarantined in their hometowns, they all made their way to Regina and moved into dorm rooms at the University of Regina this past weekend. When the team's quarantine period ends, they will begin practicing at the Co-operaters Centre -- where all practices will take place -- with games being played at the Brandt Centre, home of the Regina Pats.
Zimmer says he's really looking forward to going through this once-in-a-lifetime experience, just two years after he was drafted by the team sixth overall.
"I believe once we get out of quarantine, guys are really going to enjoy what will happen here," ended Zimmer. "We're all going to be really tight; I think it's going to be a great time."
Tyson was fortunate enough to get into some action before 'Code Red' put the hockey season on pause in Manitoba back in November. In just 10 games, Zimmer scored four times and he added another four assists while being a plus-six for a team that ended the season at 7-3 and atop the Manitoba Junior Hockey League's Northwest Division. Tyson knows nothing will be handed to him as he joins the Wheat Kings as one of their top prospects; he plans on earning anything that he gets.
"I have to build on my confidence that I built up in Wayway, I think I showed I can play junior hockey," stated Zimmer. "I just have to continue doing the small things right and the rest will come with it."