The Hockey East Association announced Wednesday their intent to play the 2020-21 season with an emphasis on conference play during an academic year that will see numerous changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They are the first Division I conference to make any sort of announcement about their season.
“By emphasizing competition between Hockey East member institutions, the league allows itself to make significant and often difficult decisions in real time that will protect the health and safety of all parties involved in the administration of the conference schedule.”
In Hockey East’s announcement, they said have plans to “construct multiple balanced schedule models” as the pandemic remains a fluid situation. “These models will include added safety measures and allow for maximum scheduling flexibility.”
The schedules will also attempt to minimize non-essential travel.
It also seems like a new state date will be in order as well, as the release noted that details on a start date, schedule, and more specifics will be released later.
Hockey East seems to be the conference most suited to be able to switch to a conference-only schedule. Of the 10 teams in the conference, five of them play in Massachusetts. Three of the schools - Boston College, Boston University, and Northeastern - are within six miles of each other as well. Maine and Vermont would be the trickiest to schedule due to their locations.
The bigger issues at hand is how the college themselves handle students returning to campus, and, perhaps even greater, is if the student-athletes feel comfortable returning to school.
The Ivy League schools, all of whom play in the ECAC, previously said sports won’t start until Jan. 1, 2021 at the earliest.