Atlantic Hockey has announced that the 2020-21 season will officially begin the weekend of November 13-14, 2020.
The schedule features 24 games and allows for up to 28 games for all AHA teams. The season concludes with the Atlantic Hockey tournament, which will include all 11 teams and be played over three weekends culminating with a return to Buffalo’s LECOM HarborCenter.
“First off, I’m extremely excited to be announcing we have an approved league schedule for the 2020-21 season,” said AHA commissioner Robert DeGregorio in a statement. “It’s been a long process, and involved quite a bit of discussion, but it’s a testament to all those involved that we have managed to get Atlantic Hockey on the ice in 2020-21. We put this schedule together to maximize the student-athlete experience during such uncertain times. We found a way to schedule up to 28 games while maintaining a focus on the health and safety of all parties by reducing travel times and overnight trips as much as we could.”
To mitigate some of the risk factors regarding COVID-19 exposure during travel, Atlantic Hockey has separated the league into eastern and western pods, with Air Force standing alone as the geographic outlier. The eastern pod is made up of American International, Army, Bentley, Holy Cross, and Sacred Heart. The western pod consists of Canisius, Mercyhurst, Niagara, RIT, and Robert Morris.
All teams will play five games against each pod member (20 total games), play Air Force for a pair of games for 22 league games, and then play a two-game set against Long Island, who is being worked in as a scheduling partner for the 2020-21 season. Air Force will play each team twice and add in the Sharks for four games – two home and two on the road.
Prior to the possibility of LIU becoming a scheduling partner was even on the league’s radar, it was decided that league standings would be determined by point percentage this season, not by total points or even win percentage.
Atlantic Hockey decided to move in this direction for two reasons: 1) unfortunately, there is no guarantee each team plays a full league schedule and 2) wins are not valued the same in the 3-on-3 OT model that is now our operating overtime so win percentage, while easier to comprehend, was not viable. With that in place, moving to a schedule where Air Force had 20 league games and all other members had 22 did not impact the ability to make a schedule like this work.
The conference is still working to finalize the return-to-play protocols for the season, but LIU has agreed to abide by all protocols for the 2020-21 season, including testing, screening, sanitization, and other preventative measures outlined in the document.
The full 2020-21 Atlantic Hockey schedule, with scheduled nonconference games, will be released at a later date.