REGINA -- East Division WHL teams were officially allowed to hit the ice in the Brandt Centre Hub on Friday night, for the first time together in nearly a year.

No COVID-19 cases were detected in the first and second rounds of testing, allowing teams to begin practicing.

The hometown Regina Pats held their first practice on Friday night.

Connor Bedard took to the Brandt Centre ice for the first time as a Pat, after being drafted first overall in the 2020 Bantam Draft.

The centre from North Vancouver was granted exceptional status to play in the league as a 15-year-old.

Brandon Wheat Kings goalie Connor Unger showed off his new pads at practice on Saturday morning.

Unger's prairie-inspired set up includes a golden wheat field design on his pads, blocker and gloves.

Other groups celebrated being back on the ice as a team, for the first time since the WHL season was paused, and subsequently cancelled, in 2020.

The Wheat Kings also showed off some of the COVID-19 protocols in place inside the hub, including temperature checks.

The East Division teams will work to get back up to game speed over the next week, in preparation for competition to begin on Mar. 12.