(Victoria Royals / Twitter)

Local hockey fans have been waiting with bated breath on when their beloved Royals will hit the ice once more; and we’re here to tell you, we’re getting a little closer!

The Western Hockey League announced on Thursday that they will now have an adjusted start date to the 2020-21 regular season.

According to a release from the league, this year’s season will officially kick off Friday, December 4, 2020.

The WHL has said that their commitment to the health and safety of its players, officials, staff, and fans, remains first and foremost.

Despite the announcement, the opening date of the regular season remains dependent on receiving approval from the government and health authorities in each of the six provincial / state jurisdictions in WHL territory.

The league has committed to playing a full regular season schedule of 68 games, with four rounds of playoffs during the 2020-21 season to follow.

The WHL will continue to have discussions with government and health authorities on the extensive safety measures necessary to protect players, staff, and fans, and to address issues such as spectator capacities and border crossings.

In adjusting the start date for their regular season to early December, the league hopes to have additional time to work with government and health authorities on this issues.

“Regardless of our start date, the WHL is committed to playing a full Regular Season and Playoffs in 2020-21,” stated WHL Commissioner Ron Robison.

“In our discussions with the government and health authorities, it has become apparent that additional time is required to ensure we can return to play in a safe and responsible manner. Our WHL health and safety protocols have been well received by the health authorities but we have several key issues that we will need to reach a resolution on in the coming months.”