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Editor’s note: The Hockey East Association on Thursday afternoon announced that its men’s hockey tournament has been canceled due to concerns over the COVID-19 health situation.
The “greatest fans in college hockey” will be watching the University of Maine Black Bears on TV this weekend, rather than from their seats at Alfond Arena in Orono.
Following the lead of other Hockey East member institutions, UMaine on Thursday announced that because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, the Black Bears’ Hockey East quarterfinal series against the University of Connecticut will be played largely without spectators present.
In keeping with the spirit of the University of Maine System’s decision to transition to remote instruction for classes on all campuses for the remainder of the spring semester, effective March 23, UMaine athletics has announced that it will play its Hockey East quarterfinals at Alfond Arena with only essential staff and limited family attendance.
This decision, made in conjunction with Hockey East and other member institutions, will maintain a focus on limiting the spread of the coronavirus and protect the community.
“Hockey East has followed guidance issued by the NCAA and national health officials to make the difficult decision to play this weekend’s hockey quarterfinals without spectators,” UMaine Director of Athletics Ken Ralph said. “We support the league’s position and appreciate their leadership in the face of this public health crisis. I am heartsick for our players and fans who have waited eight years for a quarterfinal series to return to the Alfond. This is a clear case where common sense must overrule our hearts.”
Fans will have the opportunity to stream the UMaine quarterfinals, free of charge, through the CBS Sports Digital platform or listen to the radio broadcast on the Black Bear Sports Network (103.9 FM, 101.3 FM, 95.1 FM, 1450 AM, 1310 AM) or via online audio stream at GoBlackBears.com.
Individuals allowed inside Alfond Arena for the quarterfinal series will be limited to credentialed UMaine athletics personnel, student-athlete family members, credentialed media and official team party members.
Fans who have already purchased tickets to quarterfinal contests will receive full refunds. Anyone with questions or concerns are instructed to call the UMaine athletics box office at 207-581-BEAR.
UMaine was the last of the four host schools to make the decision to play without fans present.
On Wednesday afternoon, the University of Massachusetts system announced that the quarterfinal series sending Northeastern to the UMass campus in Amherst and the other with UMass Lowell hosting Boston University would be played without spectators present.
Boston College, which is set to entertain Providence College, joined the movement with an announcement on Wednesday night.
Only credentialed institutional personnel, student-athlete family members, credentialed media crews and official team party members will be allowed to attend games.
Boston College went further in its steps to limit exposure to and the potential spread of the virus by mandating that beginning Thursday, all intercollegiate contests held on its Chestnut Hill campus would be played without spectators.
Watch: What you need to know about handwashing during coronavirus