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

From right: Brad Cameron, BCEHS superintendent of patient care delivery for Greater Victoria, with primary care paramedics Em Funk, Tyrone Trotter, Fiona Galvin and Peter Hill at the Leigh Road station. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore paramedics didn’t waver when faced with COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Emergency Health Services personnel are this year’s Courage and Bravery Award recipients

February is Black History Month. (Photo: Government of Canada)
Camosun College highlighting Black content with research guide during Black History Month

The collection includes a range of works by Black authors and creators

Ownership of SISȻENEM — also known as Halibut Island located east off Sidney Island — has transferred to W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council after The Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC) had purchased the island for $1.55 million. (The Land Conservancy/Submitted)
SISȻENEM (Halibut Island) transfers to W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council under historic agreement

The Land Conservancy purchased the 9.67-acre island for $1.55 million with help from unnamed donor

Several BC Ferries sailings are cancelled Friday due to adverse weather. (Black Press Media File)
UPDATED: All B.C. Ferries sailings cancelled due to wind, weather

Adverse weather causes cancellations across several BC Ferries routes

Amy Morrison was surprised to find a note on her windshield for parking on a public street with no restrictions in south Oak Bay where she works. (Amy Morrison Photo)
Oak Bay resident uses notes to claim street parking

‘You must have noticed, we park in front of OUR HOUSE,’ note writer says

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read