New look to Rockets sked

There are some new twists to the Kelowna Rockets 2019-2020 Western Hockey League schedule.

They have abandoned the traditional home opener with Kamloops, and instead will usher in the new season against the Spokane Chiefs Sept. 21.

And Kelowna's annual pre-Christmas trek to the Prairies won't mark the unofficial end to the first half of the season.

"We are going to go on the road before Christmas then come home and play a game (vs. Vancouver) before Christmas which is a first," said Rockets president and GM Bruce Hamilton.

"We were going to end up with way too many days off, and I think that will be an exciting game for our community to play a game right before Christmas."

Overall, Hamilton likes his 68-game schedule.

"I like the schedule after Christmas at home, and the stretch run is pretty good."

The Rockets play 21 of their final 36 post-Christmas games at home, as well as six of their last eight down the stretch.

The flip side of that is a more road-heavy schedule to start, with nine of their first 14 games away from Prospera Place.

That opening stretch includes three games in Prince George and a pair in Victoria.

Their longest road stretch is the six-game jaunt through the Eastern Division, while the longest homestand is five games at the beginning of February, culminating the with Family Day matinee against the Calgary Hitmen.

The Rockets also have just one three-game in three-night stretch which takes them to Everett on a Friday, and Portland for back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday.

They'll close out the regular season at home Saturday, March 21 against Vancouver, before beginning what they hope is a long playoff run culminating with a berth in the Memorial Cup.

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