Frustration mounts for brothers waiting to play WHL hockey for Rockets, Blazers | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Frustration mounts for brothers waiting to play WHL hockey for Rockets, Blazers

Dyland and Ethan Ernst are waiting for the puck to drop in the B.C. division of the WHL. They play for rivals Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/ Bonnie Ernst
February 26, 2021 - 4:53 PM

The B.C Government has still yet to approved a return to play for the best junior hockey players in the province, but hitting the ice can't come soon enough for Dylan and Ethan Ernst.

The two brothers are from Saskatchewan, but they'll play with opposing Western Hockey League teams in Kamloops and Kelowna — that is, when play actually starts.

"It's been tough, especially with all the other teams going, we just want to get going. It's probably one of my last chances to get drafted (to the NHL) so...," Ethan told

The B.C. division of the WHL is the lone holdout in the league as it develops plans to suit Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. WHL teams in Alberta have been cleared to play for a month already and hit the ice Feb. 27. WHL action is set to resume in Saskatchewan and Manitoba March 12. Quebec Major Junior Hockey League have been playing for months and the Ontario Hockey League is also not playing yet.

Ethan is eager to start his third season as a forward with the Kelowna Rockets, while younger brother Dylan would start his first in goal for the Kamloops Blazers.

"We haven't heard too much, we're all just waiting... it kind of sucks because we've been working so hard and building things as a team and then not being able to play so far. It's just tough," Ethan said.

Dylan is practicing on ice in Kamloops while waiting for the league to resume.

"We're getting skating in but it's pretty tough being in the dark which makes it tougher to be motivated and keep going, but (I'm) just looking forward to getting the season going," he said.

The Ernst brothers
The Ernst brothers
Image Credit: Twitter/Bonnie Ernst

Their mother Bonnie Ernst says their family's frustration with delays in starting the season has been rising for some time.

"It's been a long wait. 'Oh we might start in October' and then they couldn't. It's just been tough, it's been a long wait. They kind of try to find as much training as they can... after December it was pretty hard to find ice for these kids and even workout and train. I'm just really hoping they can start up soon," she said.

She says it's been difficult watching her sons cycle through a rollercoaster of emotions while striving to achieve a higher level of success, only to be stalled by outside circumstances.

"The unknown and then OH, the excitement, and then the disappointment. It's just a lot of ups and downs."

She decided to have Dylan practice in Kamloops because finding ice over the winter in Saskatchewan has been difficult under pandemic restrictions.

Ethan has been recovering from a knee procedure but also playing on outdoor rinks in Weyburn.

Meanwhile, officials with the Kelowna Rockets told they were still waiting to hear back from the province about resumption of play.

But looking ahead, Ethan says he hopes to be more of a leader with the Rockets when they do take to the ice. 

Rumours around the WHL suggest the B.C. Division may include two hub cities — Kamloops and Kelowna. That would suit the brothers well, but until then they'll have to keep waiting for their first game against each other.

"It's going to be pretty exciting. Maybe a little more special than the other games. We've played against each other in exhibition. But the two teams have such a rivalry so it'll be cool. Hopefully (Dylan) will be in net one game so I'll get a chance to shoot on him."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Darren Rathwell or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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