The Western Hockey League made the decision last week to reduce the number of games that are played during the regular season from 72 down to 68.

The WHL Board of Governors adopted the 68-game schedule during their meetings last week in Calgary.

The move will bring the WHL in line with the Ontario and Quebec Major Junior hockey leagues.

Warriors general manager Alan Millar welcomed the change, which he said has been something being discussed around the league since he came to Moose Jaw seven seasons ago.

“We felt that it was time that in terms of the best interest of our players,” said Millar during the first intermission of Sunday’s game between the Warriors and Broncos on Country 100. “With the travel that we have in the Western Hockey League, it will allow more practice time, more development time, so it was time to reduce the schedule by four games and go with 68.”

The WHL has played 72 games since the 1975-76 season.

* * *

The Moose Jaw Warriors are preparing to host Game 1 of the 2017 Canada/Russia Series at Mosaic Place next month.

It will be the second time that Moose Jaw has played host to a game in the series, which pits each league in the CHL against Team Russia in a six-game series.

The series is used as an evaluation tool by Hockey Canada to select this year’s national junior team.

Millar said the organization is excited to bring the game back to the city.

“We’re always looking at things we can bring into the city that will give added value to our season ticket holders and fans,” said Millar.  “I’m not saying we’re going to have a Top Prospects Game here or the World Under-17 Championships, but those are things that come through the Hockey Canada program that we want to be considered for.”

Team WHL will be led by Warriors head coach Tim Hunter, who will be serving as an assistant for Team Canada at the World Juniors for the second straight year.

Millar is a part of the Hockey Canada Selection Committee and he said the Team WHL roster will be loaded with plenty of talent for local hockey fans to check out.

“You’ll see all the guys that were at the national junior summer camp from the Western Hockey League in the game,” said Millar.  “There are other guys, like a Tyler Steenbergen, a Noah Gregor or a Jaret Anderson-Dolan, guys that put themselves on the radar with a good start to the year, but (Jake) Bean, (Kale) Clague, (Sam) Steel, (Brett) Howden, (Michael) Rasmussen, (Josh) Mahura, (Dillon) Dube, (Kole) Lind will all be in the game.”

As Millar said, there’s a strong chance that Warriors captain Brett Howden will be in the game and Noah Gregor could be another possibility from the Warriors.

The Warriors could also have two defencemen on the Team Russia roster as well.

“(Dmitri) Zaitsev played in the game a year ago, so he should have a good chance to play and (Oleg) Sosunov should be in the game based on what we’ve seen from him,” said Millar.

Tickets for the game on Monday, Nov. 6 are included in season ticket packages, but they also went on sale to the general public last week.  You can get yours by heading to the Mosaic Place Box Office.

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