Huskies update: Changes to the upcoming Canada West regular season amid COVID-19

By in Sports & Health
The spectator arena in Merlis Belsher Place, photographed in Saskatoon, SK on October 1, 2018. THE SHEAF/Heywood Yu

Canada West has announced that the 2020-21 university sports season will likely still be  happening, but with changes to competition formats to combat the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These measures were decided on to protect the health and safety of all parties involved in university sports competitions of Western Canada while mitigating the financial impact to member schools.

The University of Saskatchewan Huskies, along with all the Canada West member schools, will likely compete in a schedule with less games. 

The dogs will also compete regionally, for most of the team sports, against teams from Saskatchewan and Manitoba to reduce travelling.

The revised arrangements also allow for competition in a more condensed period of time without shortening the season too much, should COVID-19 restrictions limit the time available to compete.

“Ultimately a determination on Canada West’s 2020-21 season will be contingent on clearance from health authorities in all four Western provinces, member universities permitting sport competition and the availability of venues suitable for Canada West competition,” the statement reads.

The schedule for the upcoming regular season and the playoffs formats will be announced at a later date.

Here is a breakdown of the new formats.

Men’s football

The regular football kickoffs are reduced from eight to five per team. 

With six football teams in the Canada West league, the Huskies will play against each of the five other teams once during the regular season.

Women’s soccer

The regular season for women’s soccer is shortened from 14 games to 10 games, and the conference will be split into three divisions instead of two.

Instead of competing in the Prairie Division, the Huskies will be playing in the new Saskatchewan/Manitoba Division against three other teams.

These three teams are the University of Regina Cougars, the University of Manitoba Bisons and the University of Winnipeg Wesmen.

The Huskies will play three games against two of the teams, and four games against one team under the new format.

Men’s soccer 

The regular season for men’s soccer is shortened from 14 games to 10 games. 

Competing in the Prairie Division, the Huskies will match up against each of the five other teams twice in the 2020-21 regular season.

Women’s and men’s hockey

The new format for the regular season of women’s and men’s hockey is geding down from 28 games to 20.

The nine teams will play two games against each team, with additional games based on the region.

In the Huskies’ case, they will play two additional games each against the Manitoba Bisons and the Regina Cougars.

If the hockey season is given the green lights, the Huskies need to search for a new temporary home to host games and practices. Huskies’ home ice, Merlis Belsher Place, was converted to a temporary field hospital in case of a surge in provincial COVID-19 cases.

The team has no plans of returning to the old Rutherford Rink. The Huskies will potentially host games in the SaskTel Centre and remote communities within Saskatchewan. 

Women’s and men’s basketball

Both the men’s and women’s basketball Huskies will be playing 16 instead of 20 games during the regular season.

The Huskies are placed in the Saskatchewan/Manitoba Division and they will be playing four games against each of the four other teams.

The Huskies’ competition for the regular season are the Regina Cougars, the Manitoba Bisons, the Winnipeg Wesmen and the Brandon Bobcats.

Women’s and men’s volleyball

Similar to the basketball format, the men’s and women’s volleyball teams will be playing 16 instead of 24 games during the regular season within the Saskatchewan/Manitoba Division. 

The women’s team will play against the four other teams within the division four times. The Huskies’ foes include the Regina Cougars, the Manitoba Bisons, the Winnipeg Wesmen and the Brandon Bobcats.

As the Regina Cougars do not have a men’s volleyball team, there are only four teams within the Saskatchewan/Manitoba Division for men’s volleyball. Huskies will play against the three other teams four times, with four additional in-division matches.

Track and field, cross country and wrestling

Canada West announced that all championship sports will go on during the 2020-21 season.

Heywood Yu

Photo: Heywood Yu