Hockey East has released its schedule for the 2020-21 season for both the men’s and women’s conferences, with games beginning Nov. 20.
Included in the announcement was the conference’s television package, which will begin with six games on NESN on opening weekend. Other games streamed through ViacomCBS Digital will be made free to fans all year.
“We’re excited to make this announcement today, and very appreciative of all the hard work by so many in making it happen,” commissioner Steve Metcalf said in a statement. “We’ve worked closely with all our member institutions in establishing protocols in an effort to play as safely as possible, while also giving our teams a complete and meaningful season.”
As reported last week, each of the 11 men’s teams will play 20 league games while the 10 women’s programs will compete in 18 games that will count toward the standings. The schedules feature weekend home-and-home series and day-of-game travel, except for Maine and Vermont, to allow for consistent COVID-19 testing protocols throughout the season while adhering to all state guidelines.
Schools will make individual announcements about fan attendance, which will be determined in accordance with state and local health and safety guidance.
Three of the final five weekends of regular-season play are designated as “flex weekends,” which are tentative. Opponents may be adjusted to maintain a competitively balanced schedule for each team. If games are postponed during the regular season, the flex weekend games will be rescheduled with those postponed games. Any games played during flex weekends will be designated as “non-conference” games and will not count toward the standings.
There was no mention of the Beanpot, with a 2021 edition of the tournament looking unlikely, but not ruled out, apparently.
Efforts were also made to align men’s and women’s schedules to mitigate instances where multiple campus populations come into close contact in a single weekend.
The schedules were made in consultation with the league’s return-to-play task force, which included conference and school administrators, team physicians, athletic trainers, facility staff, and equipment managers. The group’s work, recommendations, and guidance will be released before the start of the season on the league’s website.
“The Return To Play Task Force has done an incredible job creating league wide protocols which will give us the best chance of having a safe and successful season,” said Metcalf.
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