Surrey’s Caleb Reimer in Edmonton Oil Kings colours. The junior hockey team is among five Alberta-based WHL squads planning to play games starting Feb. 26. (Photo: oilkings.ca)

Surrey’s Caleb Reimer in Edmonton Oil Kings colours. The junior hockey team is among five Alberta-based WHL squads planning to play games starting Feb. 26. (Photo: oilkings.ca)

HOCKEY

Quarantined for now, B.C. hockey prospect ‘fortunate’ to play WHL games in Alberta soon

Edmonton Oil Kings draft pick Caleb Reimer has skated with Delta Hockey Academy team this winter

** This story has been updated

Although he’s endured a kind of prison sentence in the basement of his Surrey home, Caleb Reimer can be considered one of the lucky ones.

The six-foot-three centre is quarantined for a week in preparation for his trip to Edmonton and the delayed start of the Western Hockey League (WHL) season.

Health authorities in Alberta have allowed the province’s five WHL teams to start their Central Division season on Feb. 26, following many months of COVID-caused shutdown.

Reimer is headed to Oil Kings training camp nearly two years after the franchise made him the first Surrey-area player selected in WHL Bantam Draft in the spring of 2019, in the first round, 18th overall.

But first, the league-mandated quarantine period for him and other players.

“I’m not allowed to leave my basement,” Reimer, 16, said Monday (Feb. 1). “I’ve got my bed here and my PlayStation, and that’s it.

“My Mom knocks on the door every couple hours with snacks or lunch, some food,” he added with a laugh. “I have five days left, because I leave on Sunday (Feb. 7). It hasn’t been bad, actually, just pretty funny. I’m trying to keep busy.”

(Story continues below video)

Upon arrival in Edmonton, Reimer and the others will undergo COVID-19 testing followed by an additional quarantine period. At the earliest, pre-season on-ice training will start Feb. 12 for the Oil Kings, Red Deer Rebels, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Medicine Hat Tigers and Calgary Hitmen.

Alberta’s WHL teams will play a 24-game schedule, with games against just one opponent per week and a five-day break before playing another team. All games will be played on weekends, with home-and-home games only and no fans allowed in arenas.

No such return-to-play plan is in place for WHL teams in some other regions, including those in B.C.

“It’s amazing, and we’re very fortunate,” said Reimer, who previously played minor hockey in Cloverdale. “The other divisions haven’t been given the green light, so it’s fortunate to be in the Central Division, and I’m super excited to get playing games again, even though it’s about a month until those (games) happen.”

On Friday (Feb. 5), the WHL said teams in the U.S. Division will begin their 2020-21 season on March 19, in line with updated COVID-19 protocols in Washington State. The move allows Everett Silvertips, Portland Winterhawks, Seattle Thunderbirds, Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans to play division-only games.

Since September, Reimer has skated with Delta Hockey Academy’s U18 Prep squad alongside some other WHL-bound players. They include North Deltan Easton Kovacs, a defenseman and fellow 2004-born player who also quarantined at home for his shot to play for Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Their DHA team has been in practice-only mode since they played a handful of games last fall, when COVID protocols allowed for such on-ice action.

“The whole academy and the coaches, they’ve kept it interesting for the players with different focuses for practices and some game-oriented drills,” Reimer said. “It’s still competitive but not the same as playing against another team, going on road trips and coming up with game plans, all that. It’s been different but it’s also been good, they’ve done a good job there.”

At camp in Edmonton, Reimer will be joined by fellow Surrey-raised player Carson Latimer, who in December of 2019 scored on his very shift in the WHL, just a few seconds after hitting the ice in his first game with the Oil Kings.

• READ MORE: ‘Best feeling in life’ for Surrey hockey player who scored on first shift in WHL.

“We’re pretty good friends, and played a lot of games together,” Reimer said of Latimer, a former DHA teammate and Semiamoo product who scored 12 points with Port Moody Panthers after signing with the PJHL team last August, at a time when the Oil Kings were in limbo. “He’s super nice, and it’ll be good to see him again.”

Big, and willing to play the power-forward game, Reimer has worked on his skating in recent seasons, and has also put on some weight.

“I’ve always been one of the tallest kids, but haven’t grown much since the start of summer,” Reimer noted. “I’m happy where I am. I’m starting to get a lot faster, more comfortable in my body – that’s been the biggest thing. I haven’t been very comfortable in my body the last couple of years because I was just shooting up (in height).”

Last July, Reimer was among 113 players invited to Hockey Canada’s virtual national under-17 development camp, along with North Delta’s Niall Crocker, a Prince Albert Raiders draft pick who has also skated with DHA’s U18 Prep team this winter.

While quarantining at home and waiting for their WHL season to start, Reimer and the other Oil Kings players have kept busy with daily online sessions.

“There’s four or five groups of us,” he reported. “Every morning, someone takes on the news, the weather, the sports, a little news section that’s been prepared with the group the night before, then a workout after that, mostly cardio and pushups, planks, lunges, that sort of thing. Later on at night, the guys get together on Zoom for sort of a team activity – playing video games or poker or just something to keep us busy.”

In a news release posted Jan. 28, WHL officials said they continue to work with government and health authorities in each provincial and state jurisdiction to establish a start date for the WHL’s East Division, B.C. Division and U.S. Division. “Approval from the health authorities is required in each jurisdiction for the balance of the WHL Divisions to return to play,” the league said.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

WHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Cowichan Capitals traded defenceman Clark Webster to his hometown Summerside Western Capitals. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Hopeful Cowichan Capitals make flurry of deadline deals

Roster bolstered in case BCHL season gets go-ahead

Neurologist and medical educator Dr. Alexandre Henri-Bhargava, seen here speaking at the 2020 Breakfast to Remember in Victoria, will delve into the latest in dementia research during an interactive research event exclusively for attendees of this year’s virtual Breakfast. Access to the March 10 research event is included with the purchase of a Breakfast to Remember ticket. (Kevin Light Photography)
Blast off with Chris Hadfield at Alzheimer Society’s Breakfast to Remember in March

The Society hopes people in all corners of the province will make the most of this opportunity

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Duncan initiates pilot project to deal with graffiti

Project based on a successful one in Port Alberni

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

This was the scene outside North Saanich’s Parkland Secondary School after an attempted but unsuccessful break-and-enter into the school torched an ATM inside of it. Sidney/North Saanich RCMP did not make any arrests and currently lack suspects as the investigation continues. Members of the public who may have witnessed something or possess other information can contact police at (250) 656-3931 or to Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. (Submitted)
Money to burn: burglars torch North Saanich high school ATM

Police dogs searched the exterior and interior of the school after early morning break-and-enter

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

t
Province invests $2M in three Vancouver Island food hubs

Hub network provides shared-use processing facilities to small agri-businesses

Most Read