Hockey East officials are expected to make an announcement over the next few weeks pertaining to its schedule and postseason status.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already caused a number of postponements this season as member institutions try to negotiate the coronavirus.
The University of Maine men’s home series with New Hampshire this weekend, the first games of the season for both teams, were moved to Durham, New Hampshire, because Maine has a 50-person limit for indoor gatherings during COVID-19 under an executive order from Gov. Janet Mills.
Even though those games were supposed to be played in Orono, New Hampshire will be considered the “home” team. That means UNH head coach Mike Souza will get the last line change, which gives his team an advantage.
Brian Smith, associate commissioner of Hockey East, said teams that are hosting games will be considered the home teams, even if the contests were originally scheduled at the other rink.
He explained that if a team such as UMaine doesn’t appear capable of hosting any games, as appears to be the case, Hockey East will look into allowing the Black Bears to be considered the home team for some games and regain the last line change.
League officials and school administrators are discussing a variety of other pandemic-related issues, Smith said.
There is strong sentiment for including all teams in the playoffs in both the men’s and women’s divisions. Hockey East originally was going to allow eight teams to qualify, which means the bottom three men’s teams and the last two women’s teams would have missed the playoffs.
The league also is trying to figure out a system for seeding the teams, since the number of games each team plays likely will vary depending upon the number of cancellations caused by COVID-19.
Hockey East teams were slated to play 20 league contests, but Smith said that due to the coronavirus, the Boston University men’s team won’t play any games until January 2021. That will prevent it from being able to fit 20 games into its remaining calendar.
The conference also has changed its stance on which games will count toward the league standings. Rather than implement some non-league games as previously scheduled, all games will be considered Hockey East contests.
Hockey East had created a flexible schedule that included both conference games and non-league games in order to take into account likely COVID-19 postponements and subsequent rescheduled contests. Instead, all matchups will affect a team’s position in the standings.