WHL announces shortened 68-game schedule
The Western Hockey League (WHL) announced today its new reduced schedule of 68 games for the 2018-19 WHL regular season.
For the first time in WHL history, teams will play a 68-game regular season schedule, amounting to 748 games across the league. The WHL Board of Governors previously approved the decision to reduce its schedule from 72 games to the new 68-game format on October 5, 2017 in Calgary.
The WHL regular season schedule will begin Friday, September 21, as eight teams host season-opening games.
The defending WHL Champion Swift Current Broncos open the season at home, welcoming the Saskatoon Blades on Friday, September 21. The defending WHL Western Conference Champion Everett Silvertips will open their campaign on the road, visiting Cranbrook’s Bowen Byram’s Vancouver Giants on Friday, September 21, before returning home to host the Giants the following night.
In addition to the WHL’s regular season schedule, the WHL and the cities of Kamloops and Vancouver will serve as the official hosts for two games of the 2018 CIBC Canada Russia Series in November. Team WHL will face the Russian National Junior Team in Kamloops on Monday, November 5, and in Vancouver on Tuesday, November 6.
WHL teams have played a 72-game schedule since the 1975-76 season. Playing four fewer games during the regular season will serve to reduce travel and balance the schedule while providing more time for players to focus on training and skill development, as well as their academic studies, the WHL noted in a media release this morning.
Once again, the bulk of WHL regular season games will be played on weekends. Under the new 68-game format, the number of games on weekends and holidays will increase significantly, with 607 games being played on weekends, holidays and over the Christmas break, which accounts for 81% of all games during the 2018-19 regular season. This marks an increase from the 585 games (74%) played on weekends, holidays and over the Christmas break during the 2017-18 WHL Regular Season.
The most significant weekday change is seen on Wednesday, where 30 fewer games will be played in 2018-19 (98 games versus 128 games in 2017-18). In total, 49 fewer weekday games will be played in 2018-19 than during the 2017-18 season (188 in 2018-19 versus 237 in 2017-18).
The 748-game WHL regular season concludes Sunday, March 17, with the 2019 WHL playoffs and the battle for the Ed Chynoweth Cup beginning Friday, March 22.