The Western Hockey League is back. Well, not quite yet, but the framework has been put in place for the league to see a successful return to full action for the 2021-22 season.
The league’s Annual General Meeting went without a hitch this past week, which brought about a set date for opening night of the 2021-22 season, while also putting the finishing touches on a new style of postseason composition moving forward.
The 2021-22 WHL Regular Season is now set to open on Friday, October 1. The reigning 2021 Subway Cup (East Division) champion Brandon Wheat Kings will host the Winnipeg ICE in the season-opener on Friday, before shifting to Winnipeg for the second game of the home-and-home in Manitoba’s capital on Saturday evening.
“It’s been a long time coming for everyone involved,” Wheat Kings’ general manager Doug Gasper said. “We are beyond excited to get back into this building, in front of the best fans in the WHL. Coming off the experience from the Subway Cup in Regina, we expect to play an exciting, entertaining brand of hockey.”
The full season schedule has not been released, but some important dates were released. The regular season will come to a conclusion on Sunday, April 3. With restrictions finally lifting for likely the final time, the WHL will feature a 68-game season with the hopes of full-capacity across the league.
Beginning with the 2022 WHL Playoffs, the league will re-introduce the idea of using a conference-based playoff format. The full description follows below:
The first-place teams in the two Divisions in each Conference will receive the top two playoff seeds based on Regular Season points. The next six Clubs in each Conference, based on Regular Season points, will receive the third to eighth playoff positions.
Clubs advancing to the second round and Conference Championships will be re-seeded each round based on Regular Season points. The two Conference Champions will advance to the WHL Championship Series, with the Club possessing the most Regular Season points receiving home-ice advantage.
All series throughout the 2022 WHL Playoffs will follow a best-of-seven format.
The 2022 WHL Playoffs will conclude with the 2022 WHL Championship Series, scheduled to be played from Friday, May 20 to Monday, May 30, 2022.
The Conference Playoff format was last used during the 2014 WHL Playoffs, with the Division Playoff format in place since the 2015 WHL Playoffs.