REGINA -- The Regina Pats are preparing for the season to get under way next week, after arriving in the Western Hockey League's East Division Hub on the weekend.

“I think everyone’s extremely excited to go,” said Logan Nijhoff, one of the Pats alternate captains in 2019. “It’s been 366 days, so everyone should be in the best shape of their life.”

The seven WHL teams competing in the hub arrived in Regina on Saturday. Dorm rooms at the University of Regina and Luther College will be their home for the next two months.

The players haven’t been in a team setting since March 2020.

“Now that we’re only 24 hours away or something like that from getting to practicing and hanging out with all the guys, I feel like we’re all just super excited to be around each other,” said Pats defenseman Kyle Walker.

Since Saturday, the players have been in a daily routine in the dorms. They participate in Zoom workout, have team meetings discussing strategy and have even had guest speakers, including former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy and broadcaster Sam Cosentino.

“As far as our systems and the afternoon Zoom calls has been, it’s all about the way we want to play without the puck, hockey IQ things,” said Pats head coach Dave Struch.

“Most guys brought yoga mats and stuff like that and we just do body weight exercises, stuff to get your heart rate up,” Walker added.

The Pats will have a week of on ice training. The team is awaiting results from their second round of COVID-19 tests. If everyone is negative, they’ll have their first practice at the Brandt Centre Friday evening.

“There’s nothing that can compare to getting on the ice and battling and competing in practice to help your conditioning,” Struch said.

It’s a packed schedule, with 24 games in 48 days.

“I’m definitely nervous, I guess,” said Roddy Ross, the Pats goalie. “Once practicing gets going I think everything will fall in place and we’ll be able to figure out stuff out when it comes to goalies.”

The team is carrying a larger 27 person roster to get both younger players experience and rotate in players in anticipation of fatigue.

“There’s going to be a lot of guys putting that extra work in in that extra shift just for the time that we have,” Ross said. “I’m really excited to see everything turn out in the end.”