Hockey East announced today details for its return to play plan for the 2020-21 season, including composite league schedules, featuring a double round-robin format.
League play will begin on Friday, Nov. 20 for both the men’s and women’s leagues. Hockey East also announced its NESN schedule through Jan. 1 and news that other games streamed through its partnership with ViacomCBS Digital will be made free to fans all year.
“We’re excited to make this announcement today, and very appreciative of all the hard work by so many in making it happen,” said Hockey East commissioner Steve Metcalf in a statement. “We’ve worked closely with all our member institutions in establishing protocols in an effort to play as safely as possible, while also giving our teams a complete and meaningful season.”
Each of the 11 men’s teams will play 20 league contests while the 10 women’s programs will compete in 18 games that will count toward the final regular-season standings to determine the 2020-21 regular-season champion. Both the men’s and women’s schedules feature weekend home-and-home series and day-of-game travel, with the exception of games involving Maine and Vermont, to allow for consistent testing protocols throughout the season while adhering to all state guidelines.
Three of the final five weekends of regular season play in each league are designated as flex weekends. These weekend contests are tentative and opponents may be adjusted in order to maintain a competitively balanced schedule for each team. If games are postponed during the regular season, these flex weekend games will be rescheduled with those postponed games. Any games played during flex weekends will be designated as nonconference games and will not count toward the league standings.
Additional flex dates have been added throughout the schedule where availability allowed to maximize flexibility to play a full regular-season schedule.
Team schedules were created to best ensure a double round robin regular season for each program. Efforts were also made to align men’s and women’s schedules to mitigate instances where multiple campus populations come into close contact in a single weekend.
The schedules were created in consult with Hockey East’s return to play task force, comprised of conference and school administrators, team physicians, athletic trainers, facility staff, and equipment managers who met consistently over the last several months before making recommendations to league athletic directors. A critical component of the RTP protocol was a vigorous testing program for the teams, staff, and officials. The group’s work, recommendations, and guidance will be released at a future date prior to the start of the season and published on the league’s website, HockeyEastOnline.com.
“The return to play task force has done an incredible job creating league wide protocols which will give us the best chance of having a safe and successful season,” said Metcalf.
Hockey East will defer to each campus to determine the status of fan attendance for home games in accordance with state and local health and safety guidance. Schools will make individual announcements about fan attendance.
Details on the 2021 Hockey East tournament formats will be announced at a later date. Schedules are tentative and subject to change.