ORONO, Maine — Now that new University of Maine men’s hockey coach Dennis “Red” Gendron has filled out his coaching staff with assistants Jay Leach and Ben Guite, he will devote some time to filling out the team’s 2014-2015 schedule now that the 2013-2014 schedule has been completed.
“I’m going to work on it right away. It’s hard to do it in the middle of the season,” said Gendron. “During the season, when you wake up, you’re thinking about practice and this and that, not about scheduling games.”
The nonconference scheduling is going to be a challenge, as it was for former coach Tim Whitehead, because there will be only 20 Hockey East games next season, seven fewer than this past season. The reason is the University of Notre Dame is joining the league, which will bring the number of teams to 11.
Under NCAA guidelines, teams are permitted to play only 34 countable games, so if Hockey East teams continued to play each other three times, they would be up to 30 league games, leaving just four nonconference games.
On the flip side, with just 20 league games — each team will play league opponents twice — that leaves 14 nonconference games, which can be difficult to schedule for a team with Maine’s geographic location.
Maine will play 32 countable games next season and three home exhibitions against Atlantic University Sport teams Dalhousie (Halifax, Nova Scotia) on Oct. 6; St. Francis Xavier (Antigonish, N.S.) on Jan. 14; and defending Canadian Interuniversity Sport champ New Brunswick on Jan. 21. UNB has won four CIS titles in seven years.
Gendron said the games against St. Francis Xavier and UNB are important additions.
“We were looking at going from Dec. 14 [vs. American International College] until Jan. 26 [New Hampshire] without a home game,” he explained.
Maine’s other nonconference games will be at St. Lawrence (Oct. 11-12) and Quinnipiac (Jan. 3) along with Hockey East opponent Vermont (Nov. 29-30) while the home contests will be against Bentley (Oct. 19), HE rival UMass (Oct. 25-26) and AIC (Dec. 13-14). Maine will also play two conference games each against Vermont and UMass.
The Bears will again play in the 14th annual Florida College Hockey Classic (Dec. 28-29) against Princeton and either Cornell or New Hampshire.
For the 2014-15 season, UConn will become Hockey East’s 12th team, so there will be 22 league games.
Gendron said he would like to schedule home-and-home series against powers like Minnesota and Michigan but said “it’s easier said than done.
“They just want to play at home because of the revenue it brings in. But I’m not going to go out there and not have them come back here to play us. Unless they give us a massive guarantee [above and beyond what they usually pay],” said Gendron.
Last season, Minnesota played six home nonconference games and just two road games (at Vermont) while Michigan played three home games, two more in the Great Lakes Invitational in Detroit and one against Cornell at Madison Square Garden.
Minnesota and Michigan will be in the new Big Ten (hockey) Conference next year.