The Hockey East announced Wednesday the 2021 men’s and women’s tournaments will be a single-elimination format with each game hosted at the home arena of the higher seed.
Additionally, the league announced seeding will be determined by a newly-developed mathematical formula dubbed the Hockey East Power Index (HEPI). The unveiling comes after it was announced earlier this season that all eligible teams will qualify for the 2021 tournaments.
The current HEPI ratings can be found at hockeyeastonline.com.
“The 2020-21 season has presented new challenges each day and Hockey East has done everything in our power to ensure a safe and fulfilling experience for our student-athletes in this difficult year,” said Hockey East commissioner Steve Metcalf in a statement. “Inviting all teams into the Hockey East tournament and using the Hockey East Power Index to seed each program respects the importance and integrity of each regular-season game. Ultimately, our goal is to provide the best experience possible for our student-athletes. ”
“While we will miss giving our men and women the usual Hockey East championship weekend experience, we appreciate our partners at TD Garden and friends at Boston College, who were set to host the women’s championship this year, and look forward to returning in 2022.”
Following the conclusion of the regular season on Sunday, February 21, the women’s tournament will begin with two opening-round games on Wednesday, February 24. The seventh-seeded program will host the 10 seed and the eight seed will welcome the nine seed while seeds 1-6 enjoy a bye into the quarterfinals. All remaining teams will be reseeded before the quarterfinal round on Sunday, February 28. Semifinals will take place on Wednesday, March 3 and the championship game will be held on Saturday, March 6 to determine the winner of the Bertagna Trophy.
“As a coach, I am thankful to Hockey East for the effort they have put in to bring an element of equality and fairness to a year that has seen so much imbalance and difficulty,” said Chris MacKenzie, head coach of the UConn women’s hockey team. “The season has been hard on our student-athletes for many reasons, but using the Hockey East Power Index to seed all league teams for the tournament will give our players the best possible experience of a fulfilling and meaningful regular season and playoffs.”
The men’s tournament will follow a similar format, beginning with three opening-round games between seeds 6-11 on Wednesday, March 10. Seeds 1-5 automatically qualify for the quarterfinals. Following a reseeding, the quarterfinals take place on Sunday, March 14. The semifinals are set for Wednesday, March 17 with the Lamoriello Trophy to be handed out in the championship game on Saturday, March 20. The latest possible date of the men’s regular season will be Sunday, March 7.
“In a season where nothing has been easy, Hockey East’s dedication to providing our student-athletes every opportunity to compete, and the ingenuity in doing so, has been a bright spot,” said Jerry York, head coach of the Boston College men’s hockey team. “The unprecedented year has required new and innovative ideas to create a level playing field. The Hockey East Power Index is another example of Hockey East leadership pushing our league to the forefront of college sports.”
The tournament format was unanimously agreed upon by the Hockey East membership and created in consultation with league medical personnel and administrators. In addition to the single-elimination format and schedule, strict health and safety protocols have been approved to ensure the safest possible tournament, including mandatory league-wide testing days throughout the duration of the postseason.
The winner of each tournament will receive Hockey East’s automatic bid into the men’s and women’s national tournament.
The HEPI is a customized objective mathematical formula never before used in college sports, created specifically to more accurately rank Hockey East teams based on the 2020-21 league schedule format. The ranking system is similar to the formula used to determine NCAA tournament field based on in-season results.
While a points-based seeding formula relies on an equitable and predetermined distribution of opponents, the Hockey East Power Index applies a number of objective factors to accurately rank each team after accounting for the nuances of the 2020-21 season. By utilizing the HEPI, Hockey East mitigates the effects of an imbalanced schedule, both in terms of number of games played and strength of opponent.
The HEPI takes into consideration the number of games played, wins and losses in regulation, overtime, and shootouts, and a team’s home and away split. It then values wins and losses based on each team’s strength of schedule and their opponents’ strength of schedule, objectively, to rank the programs accordingly. It does not factor in points traditionally earned in the standings table that has been used to seed teams in past seasons.
Because of the intertwined nature of the HEPI factors, each game result has the potential to change any given team’s HEPI ranking, even if the team was idle that day or played a different opponent. Up-to-date Hockey East Power Index standings for the men’s and women’s leagues will be updated on the Hockey East website on a daily basis.
At the conclusion of the regular season, the team with the highest Hockey East Power Index will be declared the 2020-21 regular-season champion and awarded the regular-season trophy.
Television and streaming information for all Hockey East tournament games will be announced at a later date.