If you hadn’t yet heard, the Western Hockey League has begun its 2020-21 season. Yes, it may sound strange to still be including the ’20’ in the season title that begins in late-February of 2021, but following the format of its past 55 seasons of play is of utmost priority, despite literally every other tradition/format having been changed, or about to change in the coming weeks/months.
Much like that of the American Hockey League, the WHL still does not even know if there will be a championship this year, or if a winner will even be announced once the shortened season concludes.
For those not yet in the know, the WHL has begun its year with each of its four divisions hosting games solely amongst teams within the division, 24 times. With each team playing 24 games between February 26 and May 12 the Winnipeg ICE and Brandon Wheat Kings will familiarize themselves with Saskatchewan’s Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders, Swift Current Broncos, Regina Pats and Saskatoon Blades this season.
Both the Wheat Kings and ICE have named their respective leadership groups, with Braden Schneider and Peyton Krebs leading the way, respectively.
The Wheat Kings have announced their leadership group for the upcoming 2020-21 @TheWHL season.
— Brandon Wheat Kings (@bdnwheatkings) March 5, 2021
NEWS | Winnipeg ICE Announce Leadership Group for the 2020-2021 Season.
— Winnipeg ICE (@WHLWpgICE) March 12, 2021
With Regina hosting all seven teams out of the Brandt Centre in a ‘hub-city’ format, the Wheat Kings opened play Friday with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Warriors. Battling back from a 3-1 deficit after 40 minutes, Brandon relied on newly-minted captain Braden Schneider for some offence from the point, as the New York Rangers’ first round draft pick picked up an assist and the game-tying goal midway through the third period.
Falling by way of a Tate Popple overtime winner just over a minute into the extra frame, it wasn’t all for naught, as the Wheaties walked away with one point and currently sit 0-0-1-0 on the season.
Heading into the first of four matchups with their provincial rival Winnipeg ICE, Brandon will look to rebound following its opening day overtime loss, while the ICE will look to pick up their first win of the season, in their first game of the season. In eight matchups between the two teams last year, the Wheat Kings and ICE split the games evenly, going 4-4-0-0, with Winnipeg earning victories in three of the final four games.
Puck drop from the Regina hub is set for 8:00 PM central, with live streaming available at Watch.CHL.Ca. The game can also be heard live on 1290 AM with commentary by Mitch Peacock and Kevin Olszewski.