Hockey East Announces Schedule for New-Look 2020-2021 Season
Both BU men’s and women’s teams will drop the puck December 4
Hockey East unveiled its 2020-2021 men’s and women’s ice hockey schedules Wednesday, following an announcement last week that the conference season will begin November 20. The Boston University men’s and women’s teams will hit the ice on Friday, December 4.
“This is the news we’ve been waiting for,” says BU men’s hockey captain Logan Cockerill (SHA’21). “It’s been great being on the ice with my teammates these past two months, and now we have a season opener to get ready for.”
In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hockey East has settled on a conference-only schedule, limiting travel and interaction with schools outside the Northeast. The men’s team will play 20 games, and the women’s team will play 18, all of them against Hockey East opponents.
The Terrier men’s and women’s hockey teams have been practicing since the beginning of the semester, wearing masks under their helmets. Cockerill says the teams have been following all of the guidelines for practicing amidst the pandemic, and they’re excited about getting into competitive action.
“There are still many steps that need to be taken to make a college hockey season a reality, but here at BU we’ve taken all of the regulations and protocols seriously to ensure the safety of our community,” the Terrier captain says.
Both teams will be on the road for their season openers on December 4, with the men at the University of Vermont for a two-game set and the women traveling to the University of Maine for back-to-back games.
With the pandemic in mind, most games have been scheduled this season as home-and-home series, with the Terriers visiting and hosting the same opponent in the same weekend, the one exception being games against UVM and Maine, due to the longer distance between schools. BU will play every team in Hockey East at least twice.
The conference has also introduced “flex weekends”—tentative fixtures that could be adjusted at a later date. Those games will not count toward final conference standings. The men’s and women’s teams are each scheduled to play four flex games, with the men’s flex games split between BC and Northeastern and the women’s split between Providence and Vermont.
The regular season is scheduled to end in early March and Hockey East will provide more details about the 2021 tournament as the season progresses.
“Having a schedule in place is certainly the most exciting news we’ve had in months,” says men’s hockey head coach Albie O’Connell (CAS’99). “We think that our team has a lot of potential this season, and we’re excited to get back on the ice and face our Hockey East rivals.”
Both BU hockey squads will be looking to make noise in conference play this season. The women’s team finished 18-6-3 in Hockey East action last season, but was upended by Maine in the playoff quarterfinals, while the men’s team went 10-9-5 in conference play before the postseason was canceled by the pandemic.
“We’ve been training hard since March, so we’re all pretty excited to start playing games,” women’s hockey cocaptain Jesse Compher (SHA’21) says. “I’m looking forward to being on the ice with my teammates and showing everyone how hard we’ve worked.”
No details have yet been released about the annual men’s and women’s storied Beanpot, an annual tournament pitting hometown rivals BU, BC, Northeastern, and Harvard against one another and routinely fought the first two weeks of February. Last year, the Terrier men lost the title match to Northeastern 5-4 in double overtime, and the women lost 4-3 to the Huskies in another OT thriller.
NCAA Tournament officials also have yet to release details of their plans this season. More information on both tournaments will be forthcoming in the coming months.
A lot of effort has gone into preparing for this unique season, and O’Connell says school officials and league administrators deserve a lot of credit for planning a season under such difficult circumstances.
“I want to thank Drew Marrochello and the rest of the league’s athletic directors for working with the presidents and our new commissioner to make this a reality,” the Terrier men’s coach says.
That sentiment was echoed by Brian Durocher (Wheelock’78), head coach of the women’s team, who begins his 16th season leading the program. “I would like to thank the Hockey East office and the administrators at each of the respective institutions,” Durocher says. “Their dedicated effort to generate a shortened schedule will hopefully raise the student-athletes’ spirits in a competitive and safe environment.”
BU announced last month that no spectators will be permitted at any home hockey and basketball games this season. However, some games will be broadcast on New England Sports Network (NESN), and Hockey East announced on Wednesday that its streaming partnership with ViacomCBS Digital will be made available free of charge to fans, enabling them to view all Hockey East games this season.