Kelowna’s Matthew Wedman takes a face-off against his old team the Seattle Thunderbirds. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Kelowna Rockets Images)

WHL cancels remaining games of season, hopeful for playoffs at later date

The Kelowna Rockets would have played their last game on March 21

The Kelowna Rockets will not play the remaining five games they had scheduled in the regular season of the Western Hockey League.

On March 18, the league announced the remaining 54 games between all teams would be cancelled. With the playoffs and the Memorial Cup’s status in Kelowna still up in the air, the league made the call for the health and safety of players and personnel as coronavirus precautions grow.

“The WHL takes the safety of our players, officials, staff, fans, and everyone associated with the WHL very seriously,” said WHL commissioner Ron Robison.

“We will continue to monitor ongoing public health developments regarding COVID-19. We will make every effort possible to conduct the 2020 WHL Playoffs at a later date. We thank WHL fans and partners for your patience and understanding during these challenging times.”

The Kelowna Rockets will be crediting season ticket holders for missed games and refunding single-ticket purchases.

READ MORE: West Kelowna Warriors add depth with two off-season signings

READ MORE: Trudeau promises $82B in economic supports in COVID-19 fight

The league released the final standings of the season with the 16 teams that would go on to the playoffs if and when the post-season is continued.

The Kelowna Rockets would come in as the 15th playoff team.

“I think it’s great that we’re in, but this is something we’ve never seen before,” said Rockets general manager Bruce Hamilton.

“It’s out of our hands with these decisions being made by the health board, but the most important thing is the health of our players, staff and fans.”

Three of the Rockets’ last games were home games, and would have had big playoff implications as the season winded down.

“It is frustrating and a big financial hit, but we’re no different from a whole bunch of local businesses. We just hope that this thing moves along,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton said that the team is keeping busy with off-season scouting as minor hockey leagues have also been cancelled and said that if and when the WHL playoffs do return, a condensed playoff format could be in the works from the league.

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