After weeks of anticipation for college hockey fans, Hockey East finally announced the 2020-21 men’s and women’s ice hockey schedules on Wednesday. Both seasons are starting on Nov. 20, as previously reported, but now we know who every team is playing and when, including UConn.
“We’re excited to make this announcement today, and very appreciative of all the hard work by so many in making it happen,” Hockey East Commissioner Steve Metcalf said in the press release. “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.”
The UConn men’s hockey team, who finished fifth in Hockey East last year with a 12-10-2 conference record and a 15-5-4 overall record, will begin the season with two away games at Vermont on Nov. 20 and 21. Vermont finished last in Hockey East last season with only two conference wins.
Then, the Huskies will host Maine for two games the following weekend on Nov. 27 and 28. Maine finished just ahead of UConn in last season’s standings and were slated to be UConn’s first-round opponent in the Hockey East Tournament before it was canceled.
For the UConn women’s hockey team, who also finished fifth in Hockey East last year with a 13-12-2 conference record and a 19-18-2 record overall, they will start the season with the same opponents but at the opposite venues. They will host Vermont for two games on Nov. 20 and 21 before traveling to Maine for two games on Nov. 27 and 28.
Both the men’s and women’s teams will be playing home games at Freitas Ice Forum on the Storrs campus this season. Freitas is always the home for the women, but the men usually play at the XL Center in Hartford. But with no fans being allowed anyways, the smaller, more team-friendly Freitas Forum was an obvious choice for both programs.
Both teams have 26 games on the schedule, all against Hockey East competition, but only 20 of the games count toward the conference standings for the men and 18 for the women. The remaining games are designated as “flex games,” where the opponents may change to “maintain a competitively balanced schedule,” according to the press release. Additionally, postponed games due to COVID-19 or any other reason will be rescheduled during these flex weekends.
The men’s team has flex games currently scheduled against New Hampshire, UMass Lowell and Northeastern, while the women’s team’s flex games are currently against Providence, Maine, Boston College and Merrimack.
After the first two weekends, most of the schedule for the Huskies consists of home-and-home weekend series with their opponents. The lone exception is a two-game home series for the women against Maine on Feb. 6 and 7.
Hockey East is partnering with NESN again to broadcast a bunch of games. In the initial batch of games scheduled for NESN broadcast, UConn only has one on Jan. 1 for the men’s team against New Hampshire. However, the conference announced that every game will be available to stream for free through ViacomCBS Digital. How-to-watch information will be announced in the coming days.
The women’s regular season ends on Feb. 27 against Holy Cross, while the men’s ends March 6 against Merrimack. The postseason format will be announced at a later date
After months of waiting, college hockey finally returns to Connecticut next weekend.