Hockey East officials decided on Tuesday that due to the constant scheduling changes prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, they are scrapping the composite schedule developed for the 2020-21 season.
Instead, the league will formulate the schedule on a weekly basis, to be announced on Tuesdays, that will take into account the most recent effects of COVID-19 on member schools.
Hockey East associate commissioner Brian Smith said he and commissioner Steve Metcalf will collaborate with the league’s athletic administrators from Sunday through Tuesday to draw up a schedule for the ensuing week.
“Our goal is to create new matchups as much as possible,” Smith said. “That’s what we’re aiming for. We want to have as much flexibility as we can.”
For example, the University of Maine men’s team was scheduled to play a two-game series Jan. 29-30 at the University of New Hampshire.
Instead, UMaine will go to the University of Massachusetts for two games because UMaine has already played UNH twice and hasn’t played UMass.
UMaine’s scheduled home series in December with UNH was moved to Durham, New Hampshire, because of Maine’s 50-person limit on indoor gatherings. A college hockey game involves many more people.
UMaine and UMass had an early season series postponed due to coronavirus-related issues.
The UMaine women’s team was supposed to travel to Vermont for a two-game set last weekend but that series was postponed due to COVID-19 issues at Vermont.
Instead, because Northeastern was not scheduled to play, Hockey East sent UMaine to Boston to play one game against the Huskies.
Since the UMaine women have already played Northeastern twice in Boston, Smith said the two teams won’t play again during the regular season.
The UMaine men (2-5-1) have played two-game series against UMass Lowell, Vermont and Providence, in addition to UNH, and will travel to Boston University for two meetings this weekend.
After this weekend, UMass, Merrimack, Boston College, Northeastern and Connectiut will be the teams UMaine hasn’t played yet.
In addition to their three games against Northeastern, the UMaine women (4-5) have played two-game series at Holy Cross, UNH and Providence. The Black Bears are set to play Saturday and Sunday at BU.
They still have not faced Boston College, Merrimack, Vermont or UConn.
The UMaine men play BU at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, while the women will take on the Terriers at 1 p.m. Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday.
All four UMaine-BU games will be at BU’s on-campus rink, Walter Brown Arena, because Agganis Arena, its recent home, is being used as a COVID-19 testing facility.
Neither UMaine team has played a home game this season due to the 50-person limit. Maine is the only state in New England that hasn’t hosted a college game. The other states either have guidelines that aren’t as strict or the colleges have been granted an exemption.
Smith hopes something can be worked out so UMaine can play some home games this season.
However, if it becomes apparent UMaine won’t be able to host games, or if the Black Bears have to go back on the road to face an opponent it has already played, the league will consider granting UMaine home team status so it can get enjoy the advantage of having the last line change, which is the case for the home team.
UMaine men’s coach Red Gendron said it would be nice to get the last line change, but he reiterated his stance that they are just thankful to be playing. Having all of their games on the road “is the best we have for our team right now. And that’s that.”
UMaine senior right wing Eduards Tralmaks said playing on the road all the time can be tiring, but isn’t dwelling on it.
“Every team has to overcome adversity. We’re used to it. We get really excited for every game,” Tralmaks said.