Hockey East Stays in Scheduling Limbo

by The Cowl Editor on November 12, 2020

Friar Sports

Friars Remain Prepared for Eventual Season Opener

by Ryan Carius ’21

Sports Staff

In September, the Hockey Commissioners Association (HCA) delayed the 2020-2021 NCAA men’s hockey season due to a nationwide increase in COVID-19 cases and the virus’s ongoing effects. Recently, the HCA stated that each of the 11 conferences would have the autonomy to decide when it would be safe for college hockey to commence. Friar fanatics should expect an intense season with challenging opponents; however, it seems that the HCA will inhibit out-of-conference competition. At this moment, the Hockey East Association has not yet announced an opening date, a regular season schedule, or a location and date for the Hockey East Tournament.

The above map depicts the close proximity of 11 of the Hockey East teams. The only location not shown is the University of Maine, which is located in the far north.

The Hockey East Association plans to ensure the safety, mental, and physical well-being of all student-athletes, coaching personnel, on-ice officials, and administrators. An important factor in the potential success of a Hockey East season during the pandemic is the proximity that the colleges and universities have to one another, as members of the league play most conference games in the northeast. The league proposed creating multiple balanced schedule models, a move that the Hockey East hopes will increase safety and flexibility during the uncertainty of the pandemic. They also must cooperate with the guidelines established by federal, state, and local authorities, which could prove to complicate transportation to and from games.

Steve Metcalf was appointed as the new commissioner of the Hockey East Association in February, shortly before the season was abruptly canceled due to COVID-19. The commissioner expressed his optimism in regards to the Hockey East’s return to play and highlighted the advantages of the northeast. Metcalf made the point that the league is “taking advantage of our geography and our current situation we are in in New England. COVID-related [we have it] a lot better than other situations,” given that New England has fewer cases than many other regions in the country. Although the schedule has been delayed and is yet to be released, the Hockey East has worked relentlessly to ensure that there will be a season. Metcalf understands the challenges of the Hockey East, saying that there is “a lot of work to be done— what the module looks like, what our return play protocols are like, how we are going to handle all that for sure—and that is work that is happening everyday.” 

This season, the Friars are looking to redeem their previous season that was cut short and compete for their third Hockey East Championship. The Hockey East will be very competitive, as both Boston College and Boston University are stacked with talented prospects and great coaching. However, the Friars added multiple elite transfers and have three new draftees in the 2020 NHL draft.

Brett Berard ’24 will look to make an immediate impact in his first season with the Friars.

These three recent draftees consist of Brett Berard ’24, Chase Yoder ’24, and future Friar Riley Duran. Each should bring a unique style of play to the ice. Berard and Yoder will look to make an immediate impact and will greatly help the Friars’ scoring attack this upcoming season. However, Friar fans will have to wait another season to watch Duran grace the ice, as he will spend this upcoming year with the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL.

This NCAA season will present all kinds of challenges for the Friars; however, the Hockey East is working diligently to create a safe environment for these student athletes. In no time at all, Friar hockey will be back.

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