On Sept. 24, Mike McMahon, senior editor for College Hockey News, released information on how the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) was planning to run the 2020-2021 college hockey season. The conference includes Brown University, Clarkson University, Colgate University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, Quinnipiac University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, St. Lawrence University and Yale University.
One of the league’s primary challenges is dealing directly with the policies of the Ivy League, as half of the ECAC have to answer to the Ivy League first on athletic policies. The Ivy League made the decision to push the start date of all sports to Jan. 1 at the earliest so the ECAC has been forced to consider a late-start, shortened season to accommodate rather than lose half of their teams.
The main structure of the plan was built on creating a 20-game schedule for the season starting after the Ivy League schools are allowed to resume athletic play. The teams would be split into two divisions with a focus on internal play among them. The New England division would include Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale, Quinnipiac and Princeton, a team notably not from New England. Meanwhile, Cornell, Clarkson, Colgate, Rensselaer, Union and St. Lawrence would be organized into a New York division.
In this plan, each team would play four games against each division opponent with no games against the other division’s teams during the regular season. There would be no games scheduled against teams from other ice hockey conferences under this plan along with a strict restriction on overnight travel, mandating that the teams only take day trips to meet their opponents.
Every team would automatically make the conference playoffs, with games between the sixth and third-seeded teams and the fifth and fourth-seeded teams. The winners of these games would play the first and second-seeded teams, who would get a bye into this round. The ECAC Championship would be played between the final winner of the New York and New England divisions, but both teams would be named ECAC regular season champions.
On Sept. 25, McMahon said an ECAC official made note that this is only one of the scheduling plans that have been submitted to the league administration to vote on. McMahon, as well as many other writers familiar with the ECAC have said that this model presents the most realistic return to play model, so it is very likely we will see a plan similar to this made official quite soon.
As for UConn hockey, the Hockey East preseason games usually begin the first week of October, so the regular hockey season would be coming up fast if not for the pandemic. It will be interesting to see when the ECAC, Hockey East and the rest of NCAA hockey release their full conference schedules.