The Red Deer Rebels celebrate a win, without fans in the stands during a WHL game this season. The Rebels spent the entire 24-game season, over 85 days living in the Westerner Park Centrium. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

WHL set to return on Oct. 1

League reintroduces conference playoffs

The Western Hockey League will start the 2021-22 season in October.

After its annual general meeting, the league announced Tuesday that the 68-game campaign will kick off on Oct. 1.

They anticipate arenas will be back at full capacity with health restrictions being lifted in most jurisdictions. The regular season will end on April 3.

The new schedule will not feature any cross-conference play between the Eastern and Western conferences. Full schedules for Western Conference teams will be released next Wednesday and the Eastern Conference schedule will be announced down the road.

The WHL playoffs will also have a new format next season, with the re-introduction of the conference playoffs. The first-place team in the two-division in each conference will receive the top two playoff seeds based on regular season points. The next six teams will be seeded three through eight, based on regular season points. Teams will be re-seeded in each round based on the regular season standings. All series will be a best-of-seven.

The Conference Playoff format was last used during the 2014 WHL Playoffs, with the Division Playoff format in place since the 2015 WHL Playoffs.

Playoffs will conclude with the 2022 WHL Championship Series, scheduled to be played from May 20 to May 30.