KELOWNA, BC - After their first-round exit from the Canada West postseason courtesy of the eventual champion Alberta Golden Bears in 2016, the Heat men's side will have their sights set on another playoff-worthy season and an extended run come late October.
Looking to start this year's campaign with a step toward besting their fourth-place division standing at the end of last season, the men will kick off with two matches on home turf off the jump.
The first match of the season may well be one of the year's toughest for the Okanagan men, as they will face last year's Canada West silver medalist side, the UBC Thunderbirds. The 'Birds and the University of Victoria Vikes will visit UBC Okanagan's Nonis Field on Saturday, September 2 and Sunday, September 3 respectively to get the Heat's season started.
The first two of seven road matches for the Heat this season will come on a trip to the coast, where they'll face the remaining pair of last year's Pacific playoff teams in their second weekend of conference play. Friday, September 8 will see the Heat against the UFV Cascades in Abbotsford, then they will travel to Langley to take on the Trinity Western Spartans.
Friday, September 15 will see the Heat men play their only match of that weekend, taking on the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in Kelowna.
After a pair of road matches in week five of the Canada West schedule, against Calgary and Mount Royal on September 23 & 24, UBCO will have back-to-back weekends at home. Trinity Western and UFV will visit Nonis Field on September 30 and October 1, and the Heat will host UNBC for a pair of matches on October 7 & 8.
Three of the Heat's final four matches will be played on the road. Week 8 will see them travelling to play UVic on October 13 and then to UBC to face the Thunderbirds the following day. The annual home-and-home series against the TRU WolfPack will constitute UBC Okanagan's final two matches of the regular season, with the Heat closing out their 2017 slate in Kamloops on Saturday, October 21.
This season marks a new conference playoff format on the women's side, as the CW Women's Final Four returns after two years of a six-team format. Both the men's and women's conference champions will be crowned using the four-team format the first weekend of November. On the women's side, the top seeded Prairie Division team is slated to host the tournament, while the men's event heads west of the Rockies to the highest remaining Pacific seed.
The 2017 season concludes Sunday, November 12, when U SPORTS national champions will be crowned on Canada West soil. This season marks the first time since 2006, both the men's and women's national tournaments will be held by Canada West members, as Thompson Rivers University gets set to host the men's event, and the University of Manitoba hosts the women's tourney.