The Western Hockey League was founded in 1966, initially referred to as the Canadian Major Junior Hockey league, consisting of teams strictly from Alberta and the neighbouring province of Saskatchewan.
This league has undergone several changes, eventually reforming as the Western Hockey League in 1978 and then expanding across the entire western landscape of Canada, along with a group of teams from the west coast of the United States.
As one of the three members of the Canadian Hockey League, along with the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Western Hockey League includes some of the best hockey players in North America. These trio of leagues are the top minor pro competitions in Canada and the United States, attracting excellent talent from around the world – especially those looking to make the leap to the NHL.
In fact, since players are all looking to punch their ticket into the big show, the competition and level of passion in the three CHL leagues are often greater than the NHL, which tends to involve a cooler, more level-headed mindset.
Hockey is a bit more random than most sports, and leagues one step below the majors tend to involve increased uncertainty, which makes WHL odds more unpredictable than the NHL.
Formerly, the regular season featured a 72 game schedule beginning with the 1975 season, but the 2018-19 WHL season ended up being shortened to 68 games, reducing the strain on the athletes. Similar to the NHL, the league is split into two conferences with two divisions each that battle throughout the season for a playoff spot. However, the two conferences aren’t entirely equal.
The eastern conference features two more teams than the western conference, which makes it a lot easier for western teams to sneak into the postseason. As such, there’s typically an eastern team that would make the playoffs if they happened to play in the west. The western conference features the B.C. Division and the U.S. Division, while the eastern conference consists of the east division and the central division.
Three top teams from each division qualify for the playoffs automatically. A pair of wild card spots remain for the best two teams outside of the six divisional qualifiers. The WHL features a total of 22 teams, with six clubs in the east and central divisions joined by five teams in the U.S. and B.C. divisions. WHL playoffs consist of seven-game series for each stage of the tournament, matching the format of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The best up-and-coming players make their way to this league to showcase their skills for prospective NHL employers, but lengthy rivalries and the love that cities show their WHL teams create an atmosphere that’s different from the majors. This creates a level of intensity and personal involvement that transcends hockey, especially when local teams that represent small cities win the WHL Championship and even the Memorial Cup, the ultimate Canadian trophy outside the Stanley Cup and the Olympics.
SportsInteraction offers many odds on the WHL throughout the season.
Every team wants to win the championship of their own league, including the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL. However, the Memorial Cup is the ultimate prize that everyone strives towards because it shows who the best North American team is outside of the NHL. The Memorial Cup has existed in one form or another since 1919 when the University of Toronto lifted the inaugural trophy, and the modern version of this competition began in 1983.
Since then, the Western Hockey League has dominated the Memorial Cup, winning more than the OHL and the QMJHL. This trend was established when the Portland Winter Hawks became the first team to win the new format, and the first American team in history to take home the Memorial Cup. Since then, the Spokane Chiefs have won twice and Portland once, remaining the only U.S. teams to take home Canada’s prize.
Bodog and 888Sports usually have Memorial Cup future odds available since the beginning of the season.
In terms of standard WHL hockey betting choices, the most popular would be moneyline wagers that involve predicting the outright winner of an individual match. This includes both regular season and playoff games. You’ll notice that most sports betting sites will list the moneyline alongside the two other types of standard bets: spreads and over/under wagers.
In hockey, spreads are referred to as puck line bets. In the NBA and NFL, for example, spreads involve the number of points that a team will win by. Most NHL games end up being won or lost by a single goal, so puck lines predict whether or not a team will win by two goals or more. Puck lines can be a very profitable way of betting on favourites.
The final type of standard wager is over/under bets. Put simply, you’ll be predicting whether or not two teams score more than or less than the predicted total offered by the sportsbook. If you’re not 100% sure who might win an individual match, but you’re fairly confident that the game will be a shootout or a defensive battle, an over/under wager can prove to be profitable.
Bet365, among others, has an array of options for WHL betting.
Since the WHL has their own championship, and the winners compete for the Memorial Cup, there are multiple types of futures bets for the WHL. In terms of the WHL, every division and each conference will include futures for the top team. The winner of the WHL championship at the end of the year is another one of the main futures bets.
Considering the lack of predictability in the WHL and hockey in general, getting futures bets right can be very difficult, especially when considering the looming threat of injuries or players making the NHL. This is why some of the better betting payoffs can be found for futures bets in hockey – imagine betting on the St. Louis Blues when they were last in the league before going on a tear and winning the cup.
Of course, the probability of each WHL team winning the Memorial Cup will be ascertained by sportsbooks and offered as a futures bet. You can find WHL futures at 10Bet.
Proposition bets fall outside of standard and futures bets. Essentially, a prop bet can be just about anything, although sportsbooks tend to provide access to a common set of props. For individual games, a prop bet can involve the team that will score the first goal, or whether or not a player will record a point during the game.
A prop bet that takes place in the future might involve betting on whether or not a team will make the playoffs, or if a WHL club will win more than or less than a specific number of games in a season.
Betting on teams with WHL veterans is more likely to be profitable than betting on teams with up-and-coming NHLers when it comes to futures bets.
Key stats to look out for in hockey betting are goal differential, goals allowed, and possession metrics. Teams with excellent defensive and possession metrics are much more likely to win, even if they don’t play their best.
Betting on a favourite that’s likely to overwhelm an underdog rival? Consider picking the puck line favourite to improve the payout without adding too much risk.
Over/unders can offer great value, especially if you’re unsure about a puck line or moneyline bet.
Trends do not predict the outcome of a bet, but they do provide valuable insight into why an outcome is considered more likely than another. Seek out stats such as home/road records, divisional, and conference trends to back your assertions with data.
Every team in the WHL ends up dealing with a difficult part of the schedule at some point in the season, making it difficult for the team to play as well as they normally would. Look out for teams that are in the midst of lengthy road trips, especially those that involve playing three games in four nights, and the tail end of back-to-back games.
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Sports betting fans that wonder how they can place bets in Canada will be please to know that they have access to dozens of outstanding online sportsbooks. This includes Canadian bookmakers like Sports Interaction (SIA), along with international bookies like William Hill and Betway. These sites often feature a wide range of hockey odds, including WHL bets.
Choosing the best sportsbook involves finding the one that meets your needs the best. If you’re a fan of betting on multiple leagues often, a site with a loyalty program may work well. If you’re interested in placing a few bets here and there while taking in WHL action, a sportsbook that offers a few free bets may be best for your betting style instead.