Kelowna Rockets overage forward Liam Kindree is a free agent after being waived by the club

Rockets release Kindree

The Kelowna Rockets have settled on the three overage players who will suit up for an abbreviated Western Hockey League season.

The Rockets announced they have waived forward Liam Kindree.

The move means the 21-year-old Kindree is free to sign anywhere.

"It's difficult when you're limited to three overage players," said Rockets president and GM Bruce Hamilton.

"In this case, Liam has been with us for four years and has been a loyal and dedicated Rocket. He worked his heart out and faced a lot of adversity, coming back from a number of injuries that were tough to get through. I feel bad that we aren't allowed to carry four players born in 2000, but we had to make a decision."

Hamilton says the Rockets will do everything they can to help Kindree find a place to play this season.

Kindree was limited to 33 games before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a broken collarbone. He had eight goals and eight assists over that span.

In 143 games over four seasons, Kindree amassed 23 goals and 55 assists.

The Rockets will go with forwards Dillon Hamaliuk and David Kope and defenceman Sean Comrie as their three overage players.

The league is still in the dark as to when the five BC Division teams will be allowed to play.

A decision on when will be made by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

It could come as early as this week.

The other 17 teams have received permission from their respective health authorities to play a 24 games schedule. The Central Division will begin play this Friday, with teams in the US and Eastern divisions starting up next month.

Blazers deal draft pick for Moose Jaw forward McKenzie

Blazers pick up Warrior

The Kamloops Blazers have acquired a new right-shot winger.

In exchange for a sixth round pick in this year's bantam draft, the Blazers picked up Peyton McKenzie from the Moose Jaw Warriors.

The 18-year-old right winger was a third round pick of the Warriors in the 2017 bantam draft.

McKenzie has played a total of 24 games in the WHL.

The Alberta native has been playing with the Drumheller Dragons in the Alberta Junior Hockey League during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 seasons.

The provincial health office is expected to respond soon to the WHL's return to play plan

WHL plan being reviewed

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix has walked back a comment made earlier this week by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry concerning the Western Hockey League's return to play plan.

In response to a question during Friday's news conference, Dix confirmed the government has indeed received the league's plan for a safe return to the ice for its five BC Division teams.

On Monday, Dr. Henry indicated an up to date plan had not been submitted.

Dix said the 65-page plan was received in early February.

"It is being reviewed by officials with the provincial health office," said Dix.

"I expect they will have recommendations around that for Dr. Henry next week, and then we will be responding and working with the Western Hockey League.

"We will be responding to the plan soon."

The WHL's plan includes establishment of two hub cities. Kamloops would house both Prince George and Vancouver, while the Rockets and Victoria would call Kelowna home for what would amount to an abbreviated 24-game schedule.

The five B.C. teams are the only clubs left without a start date.

The Central, Eastern and US divisions have all been given approval to begin playing.

The Central Division clubs begin their abbreviated season next Friday.

The Western Hockey League has the OK to start up the Eastern Division

WHL gets eastern approval

The Saskatchewan government has given the Western Hockey League the green light to begin playing.

The government Friday approved the league's return to play plan, which includes using Regina as a hub city for all seven East division teams, including Manitoba-based Winnipeg and Brandon clubs.

A modified 24-game schedule will begin March 12, with all games played at the Brandt Centre.

The approval means three of the four divisions will be permitted to play. Only the BC Division has yet to have its return to play plan authorized.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry extended the current restrictions which prohibit teams from playing indefinitely a week ago.

However, she hinted Monday those restrictions may be loosened "as soon as possible."

Under the plan in Saskatchewan, players will begin self-quarantining Feb. 20, then arrive in Regina Feb. 27.

Once in Regina, they will be tested, followed by a second quarantine.

"Enhanced screening for all WHL players, team staff and officials will also take place on a daily basis, including regular temperature screenings as well as symptom monitoring through the WHL Athlete RMS Mobile Application," the league said in a statement.

"Masks must be worn by all WHL players at all times with the exception of when players are participating on ice for games and practices. WHL coaches will be required to wear masks at all times, including while conducting practice and while behind the bench during games."

Fans will not be permitted.

The Central Division will begin play Feb. 26, while the US Division will start up March 19.

The B.C. proposal includes two hub cities. Victoria and the Rockets would play out of Kelowna, while Vancouver and Prince George would join the Blazers in Kamloops.

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