September 21, 2016
Calgary, AB – WHL Commissioner Ron Robison officially launched the 51st WHL regular season during a media conference call Wednesday afternoon.
All 22 teams hit the ice this weekend, in 21 games, as teams across Western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest begin their quest to hoist the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL Champions next spring.
“It is fitting that we open our season by paying tribute to one of the greatest players of all time, ‘Mr. Hockey’ Gordie Howe.” said Robson during the conference call.
“Gordie was not only a Saskatchewan product but a great ambassador of the WHL as a part owner of the Vancouver Giants.”
Thank You, Mr. Hockey
Opening weekend in the WHL will be punctuated by tributes to ‘Mr. Hockey’ Gordie Howe.
First, the Vancouver Giants will pay tribute to Howe on Friday when they host the Everett Silvertips in their new home, the Langley Events Centre, wearing specially-themed jerseys. The Giants will retire Howe’s infamous number nine in a pre-game ceremony as they honour their late co-owner.
On Sunday, the Saskatoon Blades and the City of Saskatoon will celebrate ‘Thank You, Mr. Hockey Day’ as they welcome the visiting Swift Current Broncos to Howe’s hometown.
The celebrations will include the unveiling of Gordie Howe Bridge, the interment of Gordie and Colleen Howe’s ashes into the statue erected in Howe’s honour outside of Sasktel Centre, and a special pre-game ceremony hosted by legendary broadcaster Bob Cole.
WHL on Shaw
The WHL on Shaw returns to broadcast both games across Shaw TV’s Western Canadian network.
Friday’s contest in Vancouver will kick off with a 30 minute season preview beginning at 7:00 p.m. PDT, while the WHL on Shaw’s coverage of opening weekend continues Sunday in Saskatoon at 2:00 p.m. CST. Shaw TV is entering its 13th season as the official regional cable broadcaster of the WHL.
Three Marquee Games
In addition to Friday and Sunday’s games on the WHL on Shaw, two other games hold special significance on the WHL’s opening weekend.
Saturday in Brandon, the Wheat Kings will not only raise their third WHL Championship banner (and first since 1996), but the club will also celebrate the franchise’s 50th season during a special pre-game ceremony.
Also on Saturday, the first hockey game will be played in Rogers Place as the Edmonton Oil Kings are set to welcome the Red Deer Rebels in front of a sell-out crowd of 18,102.
Here’s a run down of the 21 games scheduled for opening weekend.
Brandon Wheat Kings – Saturday, Sept. 24
The defending Ed Chynoweth Cup champions will raise their banner and kick off the celebration for their 50th anniversary season on Saturday, Sept. 24 (7:30 p.m. CDT) when the Moose Jaw Warriors visit Brandon’s Westman Place. It’s expected a plethora of Wheat Kings alumni will be on hand to help celebrate the opening of the Wheat Kings 50thcampaign.
Eyes fall on Wheat Kings star Nolan Patrick – early projected favourite to go first overall at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft – while the Warriors roll out their next generation of stars in defenceman Jett Woo and centre Luka Burzan.
Don’t miss this classic East Division rivalry to kick-start your WHL season! – TICKETS
Calgary Hitmen – Friday, Sept. 23
The Calgary Hitmen open their 2016-17 WHL campaign by welcoming the Kootenay ICE to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday, Sept. 23 (7 p.m. MDT).
A veteran-laden Hitmen squad aims to prove it can be the class of the Central Division, taking on a young ICE squad that will be looking to bounce back from a tough 2015-16 season.
Catch the opening act of the snipe show! – TICKETS
Edmonton Oil Kings – Saturday, Sept. 24
The Edmonton Oil Kings open the 2016-17 WHL season by rolling out the red carpet and welcoming fans to the brand-new Rogers Place for the first time ever.
The Red Deer Rebels visit Rogers Place on Saturday, Sept. 24 (7 p.m. MDT) and if you don’t have your tickets already, you’re likely out of luck as the Oil Kings have already announced a sell-out crowd of 18,102 for the first ever hockey game at the brand-new facility. LINK
Don’t miss out on your next chance to take in the Oil Kings at Rogers Place! – TICKETS
Everett Silvertips – Saturday, Sept. 24
The Everett Silvertips bring all the chills and all the thrill backs to Xfinity Arena on Saturday, Sept. 24 (7:05 p.m. PDT) when the Vancouver Giants come to visit. It’s a border battle for the ages as the Giants head south after hosting the Silvertips on Friday night in Langley.
Every day is a great day for anyone to be a Silvertip! – TICKETS
Kamloops Blazers – Friday, Sept. 23
The only thing hotter than the Interior sun is the rivalry that exists between the Blazers and Kelowna Rockets. The 2016-17 WHL season goes straight into the fire on Friday, Sept. 23 (7 p.m. PDT) at the Sandman Centre as the Blazers welcome the Rockets.
The Blazers season came to a heart-breaking end at the hands of the Rockets, a memory that undoubtedly remains fresh.
Blazer Nation needs your energy! – TICKETS
Kelowna Rockets – Saturday, Sept. 24
The Rockets put an end to the Kamloops Blazers’ season in 2015-16, ousting their B.C. Division rivals from the 2016 WHL Playoffs. With both clubs poised to fight tooth and nail for a division crown, there’s no better way to start the campaign than with a home-and-home turf war, concluding Saturday, Sept. 24 (7:05 p.m. PDT).
The City of Rockets wants your voice at Prospera Place in Kelowna! – TICKETS
Kootenay ICE – Saturday, Sept. 24
The ICE bring the cool back to Western Financial Place this Saturday, Sept. 24 (7 p.m. MDT) as the Calgary Hitmen visit Cranbrook.
Hometown product Payton Lee mans the blue paint in this his final season in the Western Hockey League. It’s a homecoming like no other and it all starts this Saturday!
In Cranbrook, it’s Cool 365. Get your chill on! – TICKETS
Lethbridge Hurricanes – Friday, Sept. 23
The Hurricanes fire up the engine on the franchise’s 30th season, welcoming the Medicine Hat Tigers to the Enmax Centre in Lethbridge on Friday, Sept. 23 (7 p.m. MDT).
Captain Tyler Wong and the Hurricanes begin their quest to repeat as Central Division champions.
Come celebrate 30 years strong! – TICKETS
Medicine Hat Tigers – Saturday, Sept. 24
The Tigers gear up for their second season at the Canalta Centre by welcoming the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday, Sept. 24 (7:30 p.m. MDT).
Don’t be caught cat-napping.
Live. Breathe. Orange – TICKETS
Moose Jaw Warriors – Friday, Sept. 23
Mosaic Place will be rocking on Friday, Sept. 23 (7 p.m. CST) when the defending WHL Champion Brandon Wheat Kings roll into Moose Jaw for an East Division battle with the Warriors!
After the Wheat Kings eliminated the Warriors during the 2016 Playoffs, there’s unfinished business. – TICKETS
Portland Winterhawks – Saturday, Sept. 24
He’s back! Mike Johnston is back behind the bench as the Winterhawks host the defending Western Conference champion Seattle Thunderbirds at Moda Center in Portland on Saturday, Sept. 24 (7 p.m. PDT).
This is going to be fun! – TICKETS
Prince Albert Raiders – Saturday, Sept. 24
The Raiders open the 2016-17 WHL regular season by welcoming the Regina Pats to the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert on Saturday, Sept. 24 (7 p.m. CST).
It’s a clash of north versus south in the WHL’s East Division. Don’t miss out on what should set the tone in what’s certain to be a tightly-contested division. – TICKETS
Prince George Cougars – Friday, Sept. 30
Cougars fans might have to wait an extra week before welcoming their boys home, but it will certainly be worth it as Prince George appears set to take a leap in the difficult B.C. Division.
On Friday, Sept. 30 (7 p.m. PDT), the Cougars welcome the high-flying Kelowna Rockets to the CN Centre for an all-important divisional matchup.
Get your hot paws on the coolest ticket in town! – TICKETS
Red Deer Rebels – Friday, Sept. 23
Hot on the heels of hosting the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup, the Red Deer Rebels ring in a new year and celebrate the franchise’s 25th anniversary in the process.
Whether you were there on Day 1 back in 1992 or this season represents your very own Day 1 with the Rebels, you won’t want to miss a shift throughout the 2016-17 campaign.
Be there on opening night as the Rebels welcome the Edmonton Oil Kings to the Enmax Centrium on Friday, Sept. 23 (7 p.m. MDT). – TICKETS
Regina Pats – Friday, Sept. 23
The Pats are considered early favourites to make a run in the East Division and it all begins Friday, Sept. 23 (7 p.m. CST) when the Prince Albert Raiders visit the Brandt Centre.
March with us! Join the regiment now and get behind your Pats as they go to battle in the WHL’s heated East Division! – TICKETS
Saskatoon Blades – Sunday, Sept. 25
What a more fitting way to open a new campaign than to pay tribute one of Saskatoon’s favourite sons and hockey’s greatest heroes?
The Blades welcome the Swift Current Broncos to Sasktel Centre on Sunday, Sept. 25 (2:05 p.m MDT) for Thank You, Mr. Hockey Day, in honour of the late, great Gordie Howe.
The Blades will don special-edition sweaters as Gordie and Colleen Howe’s ashes are interred into the statue honouring Mr. Hockey at Sasktel Centre. Legendary broadcaster Bob Cole will host the pre-game ceremony.
Will you be there? – TICKETS
Seattle Thunderbirds – Saturday, Oct. 1
The 2015-16 Western Conference Champions are back in the nest on Saturday, Oct. 1 (7:05 p.m. PDT), welcoming the Portland Winterhawks to ShoWare Center in Kent.
Come Celebrate the Legacy as the Thunderbirds open their 40th season in the Emerald City! – TICKETS
Spokane Chiefs – Saturday, Oct. 1
From Kailer Yamamoto to Ty Smith, the Spokane Chiefs are on the brink of exciting times in the WHL’s U.S. Division.
Saturday, Oct. 1 (7:05 p.m. PDT) will be well worth the wait when the Chiefs welcome the Tri-City Americans to Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. – TICKETS
Swift Current Broncos – Friday, Sept. 23
The Swift Current Broncos celebrate their 50th anniversary this season and the festivities get underway Friday, Sept. 23 (7 p.m. MDT).
Come kick up some dust as we show the Western Hockey League what 50 years strong looks like. – TICKETS
Tri-City Americans – Saturday, Sept. 24
The Americans are counting down the days and hope you are, too!
The 2016-17 WHL season gets underway Saturday, Sept. 24 (7:05 p.m. PDT), when the Spokane Chiefs visit the Toyota Center in Kennewick.
Don’t miss what is sure to be a classic U.S. Division clash! – TICKETS
Vancouver Giants – Friday, Sept. 23
The 2016-17 Western Hockey League campaign kicks off in Langley as the Giants welcome the Everett Silvertips to the Langley Events Centre on Friday, Sept. 23 (7:30 p.m. PDT), for a special night.
While the night will mark the official opening of the WHL slate, the Giants will honour longtime co-owner and one-of-a-kind hockey hero, Gordie Howe. The Giants will sport special-edition sweaters as Mr. Hockey’s legendary No. 9 is raised to the rafters, never to be worn again.
Come join us in celebrating a true Giant. – TICKETS
Victoria Royals – Friday, Sept. 23
The Royals rose to the B.C. Division throne in 2015-16 and will celebrate that accomplishment by raising their WHL Regular Season Championship and B.C. Division Championship banners to the rafters on Friday, Sept. 23 (7:05 p.m PDT), when the Prince George Cougars visit Save-on-Foods Memorial Arena.
We are true blue and we wouldn’t be without you. – TICKETS