It will be like old home week for the Victoria Royals when they open the Western Hockey League preseason at two locations they know all too well.
The Royals will play the Blazers at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops on Sept. 15 and the Rockets at Prospera Place in Kelowna on Sept. 17 and Sept. 18. Those were the double-bubble sites of the Royals’ pandemic-abbreviated 22-game 2021 WHL season.
“It will be back to familiar territory,” said Royals GM and head coach Dan Price.
“We spent the entire 2021 season playing in the Kelowna and Kamloops rinks. And also our previous season ended in Kelowna [following a victory against the Rockets on March 11, 2020, after which the remainder of the WHL regular season and playoffs were cancelled]. It kind of closes the loop.”
Victoria’s lone exhibition home game will be against the Prince George Cougars on Sept. 25 at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. It will be the first Royals game on Blanshard Street since a regular-season 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Giants on March 1, 2020.
“It will be a good opportunity to welcome back the fans, players, team staff and building staff,” said Price.
The WHL will play 52 preseason games between Sept. 10-25. Several of the games will take place in non-WHL markets. The Vancouver Giants and Prince George Cougars will meet in Maple Ridge and the Giants and Blazers in Ladner, the Saskatoon Blades and Prince Albert Raiders in Warman, Sask., the Calgary Hitmen and Red Deer Rebels in Siksika, Alta., the Hitmen and Edmonton Oil Kings at suut’ina Nation, Alta., and the Medicine Hat Tigers will play both their games in Irvine, Alta.
The Everett Silvertips and Tri-City Americans will host U.S. Division preseason tournaments.
The full 68-game 2021-22 WHL regular-season schedule will be released Wednesday.
The regular-season home openers for all 22 teams have been unveiled. Victoria’s curtain-raiser is Oct. 2 against the Giants at the Memorial Centre.