Two more Division 1 teams announced their return to play plans for the 2020-2021 season this week. Both conferences are taking very interesting approaches, with the National Collegiate Hockey Conference doing a bubble for their teams and Atlantic Hockey including the independent Long Island University. This leaves the Hockey East, the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association for conferences that have yet to release their adapted plans for the 2020-2021 season.
Atlantic Hockey has put together a plan that would split most of their teams into two geographically decided pods. The eastern pod will be made up of Army West Point, American International College, Bentley, Holy Cross and Sacred Heart. The western pod comprises Canisius, Mercyhurst, Niagara, Rochester Institute of Technology and Robert Morris. The Air Force Academy is a full member of Atlantic Hockey but since it is so isolated out in Colorado Springs, it sits outside divisions and will play two games against each AH team and four against Long Island University. Long Island University has been added as a scheduling partner for this season, which also happens to be the LIU Sharks’ first season.
Each team aside from the Air Force Academy will play against each pod member five times for a total of 20 games. They will also each play Air Force twice to put together 22 conference games, and a two-game set against LIU. The conference decided that league standings will be determined by point percentage this season rather than total points or win percentage. This decision was reached because there is no way to guarantee a full season will be played as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and because of a rule change which decided that wins are not valued the same in the 3-on-3 overtime model vs the old 5-on-5. The season will end with the Atlantic Hockey Tournament which will include all 11 Atlantic Hockey teams played over three weekends with finals being held at Buffalo’s LECOM HarborCenter.
|American International College||Canisius College|
|United States Military Academy West Point||Mercyhurst University|
|Bentley University||Niagara University|
|Holy Cross University||Rochester Institute of Technology|
|Sacred Heart University||Robert Morris University|
|United States Air Force Academy|
|Long Island University|
National Collegiate Hockey Conference:
The National Collegiate Hockey Conference will be playing a 26-game conference schedule broken into two parts over the course of the season. The first stage will have all teams centralized in Omaha, Nebraska inside a pod while the second stage will have teams traveling. To reduce long distance travel for teams, the conference has been divided into two divisions based on the location of each school. The East Division consists of Miami, Minnesota Duluth, St. Cloud State and Western Michigan. The West Division consists of Colorado College, Denver, North Dakota and Omaha.
Teams will play each of the schools in their division six times for a total of 18 games in the first stage of play, and will play each team in the other division twice. All cross divisional play will take place during the stage in Omaha. The University of Nebraska’s Omaha Baxter Arena will be the host for all the games played in the pod. Inside the pod teams will play 10 games each, for 40 total games with play spread over the first three weeks of December.
The second position of the conference’s season will begin after New Year’s Day on the first weekend in January and will see play at home NCHC rinks. Teams will play 16 games during the second part of the season, all against divisional foes, with eight games at home and eight games on the road. Teams will have multiple bye weekends during the travel portion of the season to allow for flexibility in the schedule.
|Miami University||Colorado College|
|University of Minnesota, Duluth||Denver University|
|St. Cloud State University||University of North Dakota|
|Western Michigan University||University of Nebraska, Omaha|