The Kelowna Rockets have made it down to the final three.
The Western Hockey League has released its shortlist of potential host cities for the 2013 Memorial Cup with Kelowna, Saskatoon and Red Deer making the grade.
The announcement was made this week in Calgary, site of the league meetings.
“We’re excited to be chosen as one of three teams vying to be the host of the 2013 Memorial Cup,” said Rockets president/GM Bruce Hamilton. “We’d love to bring the Memorial Cup back to our city and fans.”
The three teams were selected based on several criteria including the projected roster for each team in 2013, as well as each franchise’s past history of hosting events and the facilities and amenities were also taken into account.
The WHL head office and an independent panel chose the three finalists.
The Rockets hosted and won the Canadian Hockey League championship tournament back in 2004, Saskatoon last played host to the Cup in 1989, while the Rebels have never hosted major junior hockey’s showcase.
The 2013 host city will be announced Oct. 12 at the board of governors meeting in Calgary.
Head shots addressed
The Western Hockey League has taken steps in its effort to decrease the incidence of head injuries in the game.
At the annual AGM this week in Calgary, the board of governors voted in favour of adopting a Seven Point Plan to reduce blows to the head and concussions.
Included in the new criteria is: adoption of new playing rules; more severe suspensions for repeat offenders; educating the players to be more responsible for themselves on the ice; and new soft cap elbow and shoulder pads.
The WHL playing rule changes includes the adoption of a checking to the head penalty for lateral and blind side hits to an unsuspecting opponent in open ice where the head is targeted or is the principle point of contact.
The WHL also tightened the standard on late hits as well as charging and interference penalties to address players building up significant speed and hitting the opponent along the boards with excessive force.
“The WHL is fully committed to addressing head blows and concussions in a comprehensive manner,” said WHL commissioner Ron Robison. “We believe the Seven Point Plan we have adopted will not only create a safer environment for our players but will also enable us to better educate our players, coaches and officials as to what constitutes a legal hit.”
The WHL also adopted a new embellishment rule and introduced automatic suspensions for players who receive multiple penalties for checking to the head, checking from behind, embellishment and kneeing.