The Kent-based Seattle Thunderbirds will only play U.S. Division opponents the first month of the Western Hockey League season due to COVID-19 travel restrictions to the U.S. from Canada. The T-Birds open the season Oct. 2 at Portland. COURTESY PHOTO, Brian Liesse, Seattle Thunderbirds

The Kent-based Seattle Thunderbirds will only play U.S. Division opponents the first month of the Western Hockey League season due to COVID-19 travel restrictions to the U.S. from Canada. The T-Birds open the season Oct. 2 at Portland. COURTESY PHOTO, Brian Liesse, Seattle Thunderbirds

Thunderbirds to play only U.S. Division teams in first month

Travel restrictions due to COVID-19 restrict travel from Canada

The Western Hockey League announced a series of changes to the 2021-2022 Western Conference regular season schedule, including the Kent-based Seattle Thunderbirds.

Due to ongoing border restrictions preventing non-essential bus travel from Canada to the U.S. because of COVID-19, WHL teams in the U.S. Division will compete exclusively against U.S. Division opponents, while clubs in the B.C. Division will compete exclusively against B.C. Division opponents during the month of October, according to a Sept. 8 WHL statement.

Following these changes, teams in the Western Conference are now scheduled to begin inter-division competition beginning Nov. 3 when the Portland Winterhawks visit the Kamloops Blazers.

The U.S. Division teams besides the T-Birds and Portland include the Everett Silvertips, Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans. The B.C. Division includes the Kelowna Rockets, Vancouver Giants, Kamloops Blazers, Victoria Royals and Prince George Cougars

The T-Birds open league play Oct. 2 at Portland. Their home opener is Oct. 9 against Portland at the accesso ShoWare Center.

It was previously announced that the Western Conference teams would compete exclusively within the Western Conference only during the 2021-2022 regular season.

The Calgary, Alberta-based WHL consists of 22 teams with 17 located in Western Canada and five in the Pacific Northwest.




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