EDMONTON (ISN) – When the 2012-13 Canada West Hockey season gets underway this fall a new, eight-team conference will take shape and the women’s schedule will include significant additional changes.
While Mount Royal joins both men’s and women’s hockey action, the women’s side sees the number of conference games jump from 24 to 28, with six teams now qualifying for the post-season.
The men’s schedule begins in Lethbridge on September 27, when the host Pronghorns take on Calgary in the first of a home-and-home series on back-to-back nights. After a thrilling, triple-overtime Game 3 victory in last season’s conference championship with Calgary, the Saskatchewan Huskies begin defence of their title in Calgary on September 28-29, but this time the opponent will be the newly admitted Mount Royal Cougars.
A frantic finish saw Manitoba edge Alberta and Saskatchewan for first place in 2011-12, demonstrating that every point earned during the 28-game schedule could become important to home-ice advantage, earning a playoff “bye” or simply making into the second season.
The Calgary Dinos completed a successful return to Canada West women’s hockey in only their third season back by finishing first, winning the conference championship over Alberta and marching all the way to a CIS gold medal led by star forward Hayley Wickenheiser and back-stopper Amanda Tapp.
In preparation to join Canada West, head coach Scott Rivett guided Mount Royal to an ACAC championship this past winter. The Cougars will travel to Saskatoon October 5-6 for their first-ever CIS action against the U of S Huskies.
In a rematch of the 2012 Canada West final, Alberta and Calgary tangle twice each home city – at Calgary November 2-3 and back in Edmonton January 25-26.
Playoff dates for the men’s and women’s playoffs are identical once the conference season concludes on February 9. The top two teams on each side receive a “bye” during quarter-finals on Feb. 15-17 before hosting semifinals Feb. 22-24. The Canada West finals take place March 1-3, and all playoff series’ are best-of-three.
Saskatchewan will host the University Cup men’s hockey tournament, March 14-17, 2013 in Saskatoon. The Huskies will also host the six-team tournament in 2014.
Women’s teams will compete for two Canada West spots at the CIS championship, March 7-10 at the University of Toronto.
Full broadcast details will become available in the coming months.