A member of the Kelowna Rockets’ team cohort has tested positive for COVID-19.
The Western Hockey League said the positive test was discovered during the initial return-to-play testing phase. The individual will be required to self-isolate for 14 days, as will one other individual within the cohort deemed a close contact of the person who tested positive.
The WHL will not be identifying either of the two people and added in a statement: “Due to the fact the positive test result for COVID-19 was discovered during the initial return to play testing phase for the Kelowna Rockets and prior to the club beginning team activities, other members of the team cohort are permitted to continue on the original timeline associated with their return to play.”
Once the season begins on March 26, if a player or staff member of a team tests positive for COVID-19, all team activities will be halted for at least two weeks.
The Rockets are scheduled to begin the 2021 24-game B.C. Division season as scheduled on March 26, taking on the Victoria Royals in a near-empty Prospera Place in the Okanagan city.
Kelowna and Victoria will be based in Kelowna, while Kamloops will be home to the Blazers, the Prince George Cougars and the Vancouver Giants.
All games will be played in Kamloops and Kelowna.
There will be no spectators at the games, though Blazers’ games will be broadcast on Radio NL (650 AM) and streaming options are available at whl.ca.
Due to the pandemic, the WHL is playing a truncated season, with teams in B.C. playing one another only, as are teams in the U.S. and teams on the Prairies (Alberta and Saskatchewan and Manitoba).
There has been no word on whether the 24-game season will be followed by playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Blazers were on the ice on Thursday night (March 18) for the first time in a year as they took part in a practice.
Kamloops will open the season on March 26 against Vancouver at Sandman Centre.