The University of Maine men’s hockey team, which hasn’t played since Jan. 23, will have another weekend off.
“Between positive tests, contact tracing, and return to competition protocols, the Black Bears do not have enough players available for games this weekend,” UMaine senior associate athletic director for external operations/communications Tyson McHatten said.
“If all goes as expected, the team will be back on the ice the following weekend. They currently have limited student-athletes available for practice,” he said.
UMaine athletics paused the teams activities on Jan. 24 due to issues related to COVID-19.
The Black Bears returned to full practices late last week, but with a limited number of players, and that continues this week.
Under Hockey East guidelines, teams must have 15 skaters and two goalies in order to play a game, although teams can ask the league for permission to play with fewer players.
The UMaine women’s hockey team has played a game with 13 skaters and another with 14. Unlike the men’s game, body checking is not allowed in women’s hockey.
Hockey East associate commissioner Brian Smith said schools have the option to postpone their return to competition if they don’t believe they have enough available players or if they think their players need more time to get ready for game action after sitting out for an extensive period.
“We aren’t going to put anyone at risk,” Smith said.
The UMaine men are 2-7-1 and must play at least two more regular-season games and participate in the Hockey East Tournament to be eligible for the NCAA Tournament. Participation in the league tourney counts as one game no matter how many are played.
All teams qualify for the Hockey East Tournament this season. The playoff format is expected to be announced on Wednesday.
Teams that win their conference tournament automatically qualify for the 16-team NCAA Tournament, even if they don’t play the NCAA-mandated minimum of 13 games.
There are four weekends left in the regular season and the Black Bears have yet to play Massachusetts, Northeastern, Boston College, Merrimack or Connecticut.
UMass’ winter sports teams this week began a 14-day pause due to the coronavirus.