Vancouver, BC – The Canada West conference has announced their intentions for a return-to-play in the fall of 2021, as members affirmed their commitment for a season at the virtual Canada West Annual General Meeting on May 4-5.
The return-to-play will have a greater focus on regional play, limiting travel and costs for programs hit hard by the pandemic. This would allow a viable return to sport plan for the conference that is aiming for a full season in the fall of 2021.
“In addition to the health and safety concerns that we all have been facing this past year, our members also face a significant amount of financial uncertainty stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Canada West President Curtis Atkinson in a press release. “Today is a positive step forward in returning to Canada West competition in a feasible, safe, and fiscally responsible way.”
The season will have an altered schedule, which changes the competition format in nearly every sport, with each sport also playing a limited amount of games compared to their usual allotment.
The changes to the scheduling will only affect the 2021-22 season, before switching back over to the regular format in 2022-23. The conference announced a similar restructuring in the spring of 2020 before the fall season was cancelled on June 8.
While the format changes have been announced, the schedule has not been released and could undergo further adjustments as the pandemic continues to evolve.
Championship sports such as cross country, curling, golf, swimming, track & field, and wrestling are all planned to take place in 2021-22.
Men’s and women’s hockey will each play 20 games, playing each team twice, while programs will flush out the schedule with additional games against regional opponents. UBC and Trinity Western will play a total of four additional games, while Manitoba, Regina and Saskatchewan play each other twice each.
The top six teams will qualify for the playoffs, which will feature best of three series at the home of the higher seed.
The football season will be shortened to six games, down from 10. Each of the six teams will play each other once, before playing an additional game against one school to finish out the regular season.
2021 will see the return of the Hardy Cup playoffs, which the top four regular-season teams will compete in for the honour of lifting the Hardy Cup. U SPORTS has not announced the status of the Vanier Cup.
The 17 teams Canada West basketball circuit will play nearly a full season, with 16 or 18 games prior to the playoffs. A new division structure has been announced, with BC (7 teams) and Alberta (5 teams) teams playing together, while Manitoba and Saskatchewan schools form the Prairie division (5 teams).
The BC programs will play each other three times each, while the other division will play each opponent four times to complete the regular season.
The major difference in this format is that all 17 programs will qualify for a single-elimination postseason in a predetermined bracket. The top three teams will receive a double-bye to the quarter-final, while the top nine earn byes to the second round.
While untraditional, the revised format will offer up exciting basketball for all U SPORTS basketball fans.
Soccer is the only sport that has different plans for the men’s and women’s competitions. Women’s soccer, with 16 programs, will play 12 regular-season games in a similar division structure to basketball (BC, Alberta, Prairie). In the BC division, teams will play each other twice, while Alberta and Prairie will face off four and three times respectively.
The women’s soccer playoffs will feature eight teams, three from BC, two from Alberta, two from Prairie as well as a wildcard entry. The final four will take place at the highest remaining school in British Columbia, and if no BC schools are left, the highest remaining school.
For the 13 team men’s league, the regular season will consist of 10-12 games with a two-division structure. The BC teams will play in the Pacific Division (6 teams), while the rest of the conference battles it out in the Prairie Division (5 teams).
The top four seeds qualify for the playoffs and play a cross-conference playoff, with the highest remaining Prairie school hosting the conference final four.
Similar to basketball and soccer, men’s and women’s volleyball will have a BC, Alberta and Prairie division. The regular season will consist of 16-18 games, with five team divisions playing each team four times, while four-team divisions play three teams six times.
12 teams will qualify for the playoffs, and division winners will host pods of four before moving onto two pools of three and eventually the conference final four.
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