The University of Maine’s hockey team will participate in the 2022 Ice Breaker Tournament in Colorado, which will have co-hosts for the first time in the history of the tournament.
The University of Denver, from the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and the United States Air Force Academy — from Atlantic Hockey — will serve as co-hosts and Notre Dame will also join the field. Notre Dame is in the Big Ten and UMaine is in Hockey East.
Each team will play two games on Oct. 7-8, but the format has not been announced yet. The Air Force Academy plays at the Cadet Ice Arena in Colorado Springs and Denver plays at the Magness Arena in Denver.
The tournament, which is one of the season-opening events on the college hockey circuit, began in 1997. This will be the fifth time UMaine has appeared in the tournament.
The 2001 Ice Breaker was held at Alfond Arena in Orono, with appearances from Bowling Green, Clarkson and St. Cloud State. The last time UMaine appeared was when it hosted the 2015 tourney at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, when the Black Bears were joined by Lake Superior State, North Dakota and Michigan State.
The tournament, sponsored by the Hockey Commissioners Association and College Hockey Inc., carries an NCAA exemption, so these games will not count toward the number of games on their schedules.
NCAA Division I teams are allowed to schedule 34 regular season games, so the four competing schools could conceivably play 36 games next season.
UMaine is 3-3-2 in its eight Ice Breaker Tournament games. It went 1-1 in each of the first three appearances and had ties against Michigan State and North Dakota in Portland before earning shootout wins.
“It’s a great way to open your season,” said UMaine first-year head coach Ben Barr. You have a road trip to a beautiful part of the country where you’re going up against real good programs that you don’t see often.”