Blazers change WHL preseason schedule due to COVID-19-related gathering restrictions

The Kamloops Blazers have changed their preseason schedule to comply with COVID-19-related health restrictions in place throughout the B.C. Interior.

The Western Hockey League team announced the changes to the schedule on Wednesday, adding a game in Prince George on Sept. 15 and deleting two home games — one on Sept. 15 and the other on Sept. 17.

The Blazers will open their preseason campaign with a pair of games against the Cougars in Prince George on Sept. 15 and Sept. 18, followed by a game against the Vancouver Giants in Langley on Sept. 22.

The Blue and Orange will close out their preseason schedule with a home-and-home against the Kelowna Rockets — at Sandman Centre on Sept. 24 and in Kelowna the following night.

Restrictions currently in place in the Interior Health region limit indoor gatherings to 50 attendees. Blazers assistant general manager Tim O’Donovan said the club has a crew of about 50 people working on a typical game night, between security, off-ice officials, camera operators and other volunteers.

The restrictions are expected to be downgraded as B.C.’s vaccine card is rolled out later this month. The WHL has previously said it supports the program, and proof of vaccination will be required to attend WHL games in B.C. this fall.

The puck is slated to drop on the WHL’s regular season on Oct. 1. The Blazers first regular season game is scheduled to be played on Oct. 2 in Prince George.

The team will open its home schedule a week later, on Oct. 9, when the Cougars visit Sandman Centre.