Weyburn's Dylan and Ethan Ernst have both been eagerly awaiting for the Government of British Columbia to come to an agreement with the BC Division of the Western Hockey League as far as when it will be safe for their 2020-21 season to begin.
"Ethan has been in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets since he was 16. So it's been two years that he's played and this will be his third season. And my younger boy Dylan was drafted with the Kamloops Blazers and this will be his first year," explained Bonnie Ernst, mother of Dylan and Ethan Ernst.
Dylan Ernst was a goaltender on the U18 AAA Warriors last season, earning a 2.35 goals against average in 17 regular season games with three shutouts and a 12-4 record.
Approval from the BC Health Authority is required for the WHL’s BC Division to be allowed to return to play and as of yet, no dates have been announced.
"Right now they are just waiting for BC to decide if they can get going or not," Ernst expressed. "Ethan actually had a knee injury so this gave him time to get it taken care of and start recuperating for that. So he's almost ready to get back to the normal swing of things with hockey. And Dylan has been not patiently waiting to start his first season with the WHL. But it's just tough because they're just waiting and their teams aren't really saying too much because they don't even know what's going to happen. But hopefully soon now that everybody else has a start date maybe they'll get going quickly."
Two hub cities have been proposed to house the five BC Division teams for the hopeful 2020-21 season. In one bubble based in Kelowna, they plan to have the Victoria Royals and host Rockets based in Kelowna. In the other hub based in Kamloops, they would be housing the host Blazers, Vancouver Giants, and Prince George Cougars.
"They were trying to get as much time on the ice as they could and then we had more lockdowns," told Ernst. "Dylan is a goalie so he can actually go to Regina to a one-on-one goalie training place. So he was able to still consistently train. Whereas with Ethan it was harder so he just tried to get on the ice with friends in small groups just for some ice time."
Older brother Ethan is currently staying in Kelowna and was unable to enroll in post-secondary classes as he had no idea when the season would begin if at all. Dylan on the other hand has been staying in Weyburn as he still needs to finish his Grade 12 curriculum, however, he decided to do so virtually.
"Now he's training so it's hard for him to go to school as well," Ernst said. "So we just thought we'll put you online and if BC starts up then there won't be any worrying about switching schools or anything. So it was just way easier to be online and we're hoping we'll find out more in the next few weeks."
If the BC Division of the WHL is given the green light to start this year the Ernst brothers would likely end up on the ice together on opposing teams.
He added that when they were younger they would skate and train together and he hopes to score at least a few goals on his goalie brother Dylan.
"My parents will probably feel bad for him because he probably won't score," Dylan Ernst joked. "It was exciting playing him before. I imagine my mom was probably a lot more nervous than me and Ethan were. But that was the first time we ever played each other so it was special."
Both brothers agreed that having to play with no audience would be quite a bit different but they are excited to start the season and just get back on the ice again. If hockey doesn't work out for the brothers or after their careers are over they are considering enrolling in post-secondary courses and both envision possibly taking a business course of some sort. They also mentioned the possibility of helping their father out with the family farm.
With the East Division's (Saskatchewan and Manitoba) start date confirmed for March 12th, the WHL now has three of their divisions ready to open their regular season. Starting with the Central Division on Friday, February 26th followed by the U.S. Division on March 19th.
"Hopefully soon they [the Government of BC and the WHL) can come to some sort of an agreement so the kids can get out there and isolate then start their season," expressed Bonnie Ernst.