By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
The Kamloops Blazers, with the Interior Savings Centre unavailable because of the 2014 Tim Hortons Brier, will play 10 straight road games as the 2013-14 WHL regular season turns from February into March.
With the Brier, the Canadian men’s curling championship, running March 1-9, the Blazers will be out of the building for almost one month.
Kamloops will play at home against the Prince George Cougars on Feb. 15, then won’t be home again until March 12 when the Kelowna Rockets visit in the final days of the regular season.
The WHL is to announce its complete exhibition schedule today, with the regular-season schedule to be revealed on Wednesday.
The Daily News has received a copy of the final draft of both schedules from a source who wished to remain anonymous because neither schedule is yet official.
The Blazers are scheduled to open the exhibition season in Kelowna on Aug. 30.
That is one of five games the Blazers have scheduled before they open the regular season by playing home-and-home with the Rockets on Sept. 20 and 21. They will play here first — Dave Hunchak will make his regular-season head-coaching debut in that one — and in Kelowna the following night.
The Blazers’ other exhibition games have them playing host to the Vancouver Giants on Sept. 1 and the Rockets on Sept. 6, playing the Giants in Vancouver on Sept. 8 and visiting the Cougars in Prince George on Sept. 14.
Because the Blazers will be out of the ISC for so long near the end of the season, the front part of their schedule is heavily weighted with home games. Before leaving on its pre-Christmas jaunt into the East Division, Kamloops will have played 20 of its 36 home games, including eight in each of October and November.
The Blazers will have played just 11 road games when they begin a six-game East Division tour in Brandon against the Wheat Kings on Dec. 10.
Some scheduling notes:
The Blazers will play 11 Friday night home games, followed by 10 on Saturdays. They will be at home for six Wednesdays, four Tuesdays, three Sundays and two Mondays.
Kamloops has three weekends in which it is to play three games in three nights. One of those occurs on its East Division road trip. The other two are on back-to-back weekends in February.
The Blazers will play three of their B.C. Division opponents eight times each, while meeting Prince George 10 times.
Kamloops will meet each U.S. Division team four times. The defending-champion Portland Winterhawks are to play here on Nov. 16 and Feb. 14.
The Blazers will play in only two Central Division cities — Red Deer and Medicine Hat.
Kamloops gets nine home games featuring Central Division teams, with Edmonton, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge each to visit twice, and Calgary, Kootenay and Red Deer playing here once each.
Lethbridge will play here on Thanksgiving Day (Oct. 14) at 2 p.m.
The Tri-City Americans will visit on Family Day, Feb. 10, at 2 p.m.
There won’t be any WHL games on Grey Cup Sunday (Nov. 24) or Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 2).
The WHL will shut down for four days (Nov. 25-28) with the Subway Super Series games scheduled for Red Deer and Lethbridge on Nov. 27 and 28.
The WHL will take off nine days (Dec. 18-26) for its Christmas break.
The Blazers will entertain the Everett Silvertips on Dec. 7, then will go on their East Division swing. Kamloops’ next home game will be Dec. 29 against Vancouver.
The WHL playoffs are scheduled to begin on March 21.
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