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 current location of Comox Valley Search and Rescue on Moray Avenue in Courtenay. Google Maps photo
Comox Valley Search and Rescue aiming to purchase a roof for their rescuers

Their goal is to raise between $1.2 and $1.5 million, approximately the purchase price of a facility

A bear is seen walking down Alderwood Place in east Courtenay Sunday (May 9) morning. Video screenshot/Kristie Cave
Video: Bears spotted throughout Comox Valley

Hide food sources, keep garbage away: conservation

Carter Woods was first across the line at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Saturday in Altstadt, Germany. File photo
Cumberland mountain biker wins World Cup race in Germany

Carter Woods of Cumberland won a World Cup mountain bike race Saturday… Continue reading

The flowers of Darmera peltata (Indian rhubarb) before the leaves emerge. Photo by Leslie Cox
DUCHESS OF DIRT: Plenty of ‘wow’ factor in the garden in spring

Leslie Cox Special to The Record I can’t help it. I like… Continue reading

WestJet in flight. Black Press file photo
Two COVID exposures on WestJet flight into Comox

The BC Centre for Disease Control has posted advisories for two separate… Continue reading

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

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

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Most Read