The WHL is like every other business, wanting to get back to normal.

Whether fans are allowed to attend at 100 % capacity, 50 %, or a number in between the league is letting the public know that it is ready for the 2021-22 season.

The Prince George Cougars are certainly getting the word out.

The team has announced its season will begin on Saturday, October 2nd with a home game against the Kamloops Blazers, who have won the B.C. Division the past two interrupted seasons.

This will be the first game at CN Centre in a year-and-a-half.

When you have waited this long, what is another 3 1/2 months?

The Cats will play their next two on the road with their full 68-game schedule, which will include home games between Christmas and New Year’s,  to come out on Wednesday.

The WHL regular season will conclude Sunday, April 3.

In a cost-cutting move, which is understandable, the schedule will not feature any interlocking games between the Eastern Conference and Western Conference.

The WHL is making an alteration to its playoff format which for western teams won’t have a huge impact.

If a team is one of the top eight in the Western Conference, a post-season berth awaits.

Before it was the top three in each division plus two wild cards, now it is division winners plus six wild cards.

In the West, this is a small point.

For example, in the last full season (2018-19), both B.C. Division teams Kelowna and Prince George missed the playoffs.

Clubs advancing to the second round and Conference Championships will be re-seeded each round based on regular-season points.

The two Conference Champions will face off from Friday, May 20 to Monday, May 30, of next year to see who moves on to the Memorial Cup.

The Memorial Cup is expected to be played between June 2 and 12.

This means the CHL champs will be crowned about two weeks later than prior years (before the pandemic).

For the past few years, the Cougars have unsuccessfully tried to earn a final wild-card berth but the goal for the team going forward should be higher than just sneaking in.

I realize they have not been to the post-season party since 2016-17 but the team showed enough promise in the 2021 Kamloops “bubble” that they should move up in the standings to at least the middle of the pack in the conference.

The Cougars were the second-youngest team in the recently completed mini developmental season.

Now that many of their top bantam draft picks have gained some experience the expectation is that the team should see a significant benefit as soon as the upcoming season.

Just talking about home openers, the regular season, and playoffs bring a sense of normalcy.

As long as the Delta variant of COVID-19 stays away everything should be fine come the fall.

B.C. health officials report the province ranks among the highest in the world in the number of people who have their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The numbers that came out on Thursday show that 76.5% of all adults in B.C. and 74.8% of those 12 and older have now received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In total, 4,231,871 doses of Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C., 768,008 of which are second doses.

For the Cougars, the WHL, and the general population these numbers are certainly a shot in the arm.


Taking Note:

 


FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

Philadelphia Phillies fans are famous for booing Santa Claus. Even Santa Claus would have booed the Philadelphia 76ers in the 4th quarter of Game 5 on Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks.

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

So, how bad did Trevor Lawrence look at the Jacksonville Jaguars mini-camp? He was so bad that the team’s Tight Ends coach yelled for him to ‘get over here and join your group.” The coach thought he was Tim Tebow.

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

A long-term study of musicians and chess players has led scientists to finally conclude that practice doesn’t make perfect. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just follow the Toronto Maple Leafs?

*Western Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

Hartley Miller is the news and sports director/supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. He also is the radio color commentator for P.G. Cougars’ home games.
Hartley has been on the Prince George airwaves since 1979 and is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes).
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to [email protected]