If you’re craving some local college hockey this winter – well, more later this month – then you’re in luck as the Bentley University men’s ice hockey program unveiled its 2020-21 schedule yesterday with its initial contest scheduled for Friday, November 27 against Holy Cross.
Bentley is a member of the Atlantic Hockey, which announced its return to play last month, and will compete in three home-and-home series over the next few weeks againstHoly Cross, Army West Point, and American International College (AIC).
The Atlantic Hockey league is ready to drop the puck for the 2020-21 season.
As announced earlier today, the 11-team conference which includes four teams from New England will return to the ice for its initial weekend of the 2020-21 season on Friday, November 13, and Saturday, November 14. Each team will compete in 24 contests – it is possible some member could skate 28 times this winter – while all 11 squads will be admitted into the Atlantic Hockey Tournament.
The 2021 Atlantic Hockey championship will return to Buffalo’s LECOM HarborCenter, which is the home rink for Canisius College.
“First off, I’m extremely excited to be announcing we have an approved league schedule for the 2020-21 season,” Atlantic Hockey Commissioner Robert DeGregorio said in a statement regarding the league’s return-to-play announcement. “It’s been a long process, and involved quite a bit of discussion, but it’s a testament to all those involved that we have managed to get Atlantic Hockey on the ice in 2020-21.”
To alleviate the spread of the ongoing coronavirus, the league will seperate its teams into an eastern and western pod. Three Massachusetts teams – Bentley University, Holy Cross, and American International College (AIC) – will compete in the eastern pod, along with Army and Sacred Heart University. Every team in each pod will play five games against each other, along with a pair of games against Air Force and Long Island University (LIU).
While today’s announcement certainly excited many within the college hockey world, Atlantic Hockey did state in today’s release that they are “still working to finalize return-to-play protocols for the season” and a schedule, including non-conference games, will be announced at a later date.
“We put this schedule together to maximize the student-athlete experience during such uncertain times” said DeGregorio. “We found a way to schedule up to 28 games while maintaining a focus on the health and safety of all parties by reducing travel times and overnight trips as much as we could.”
Prior to the 2019-20 season being cut short due to the ongoing pandemic, the Yellow Jackets of AIC were in first place with a 21-12-1 overall record, including a 21-6-1 conference mark.
As we continue to inch closer toward a brand new college sports season, specifically college football, there seems to be some concern from NCAA President Mark Emmert regarding what various seasons will look like this fall during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In a recent podcast appearance on The Comeback:COVID-19 and the Return of Sports from The Athletic, Emmert told host Seth Davis that the current situation is “very, very fluid,” and that whatever happens with fall sports will certainly be different than prior years.
As for what the upcoming football season looks like, including here in New England, Emmert told Davis that it won’t be what “we’re custom to seeing it year in and year out.”
Earlier this week, we learned Bowdoin College would not be playing football this fall – maybe this spring? – while Morehouse College announced today that its cross country nor football teams would not be competing for Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) championships this fall.
The Patriot League announced its plans for the upcoming fall sports season on Monday, which included guidelines for its seven members that play football. Teams will not be allowed to fly to away games while the league stated that “with rare exceptions, the regular-season competition will exclude overnight travel.”
Holy Cross, which captured the Patriot League crown last fall with a 24-0 victory over Georgetown University, shouldn’t have to fly too many games this fall as eight of its current contests, including three conference matchups, are scheduled to take place in either Massachusetts or Connecticut. However, the Crusaders’ season-opener against Merrimack College on Thursday, September 3 could be canceled due to the league not allowing its members to compete against non-conference foes until Friday, September 4.
As of today, we are 10 weeks away from the first official weekend of college football in New England as well as 69 days away from watching a slew of teams kick-off their respective campaigns on Thursday, September 3, including Bentley University, University of Connecticut and University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Will games begin on time or be pushed back to later in September? Could we see games moved to October, November, or even December? What about pushing back the season until next spring?
No matter what, Emmert knows the upcoming college sports season will look so much different than it has previously and may only feature conference or in-state contests along with a slew of regional games.
“Nobody can predict anything with certainty and so therefore you shouldn’t rule anything out,” said Emmert.
“I certainly think that sitting here today that there will be football in the fall. I think it will be different in many respects whether it’s the audiences in attendance or not in attendance, whether it’s the nature of the schedule, whether it’s the length of the season – you know, all of those things will be different and certainly the protocol and the way the games are played and the healthcare that surrounding that has got to be different.”
There is nothing better than a rivalry, especially on the gridiron. And we have quite a few here in New England, but which one is the best?
Well, we think this list features the best rivalries – 10 to be exact – but if you feel we missed a game (or two), let us know by leaving a comment below. All ideas are welcome!
1. Harvard University vs. Yale University: Hands down, this is the best New England college football rivalry. And while some may think Amherst-Williams belongs in this spot, Harvard-Yale is just as important as The Biggest Little Game in America. The Bulldogs needed two extra sessions this past year to edge the Crimson, 50-43, to claim the 136th edition of The Game. Harvard captured the 2018 meeting, which was played at Fenway Park.
2. Amherst College vs. Williams College: As mentioned above, Harvard-Yale, Amherst-Williams are the two of the best rivalries in New England, but there is nothing better than being in the stands in Amherst or Williamstown in early November to watch this game. The Ephs won their last meeting against the Mammoths by a score of 31-9 and finished their 2019 campaign with their best record under head coach Mark Raymond.
4. Maine vs. New Hampshire: The Black Bears may have won the first-ever meeting between these two programs, but the Wildcats have been rather successful since that initial games, especially these past few years. New Hampshire beat Maine twice in the last three seasons, including last fall in their season finale. The winner of each matchup claims the Brice-Cowell Musket, which is named after the former head coaches of the two programs.
6. Coast Guard Academy vs. Norwich University: “The Little Army-Navy Game” is always a must-see, must-watch affair in September, October, or November. The two teams, who entered their previous meeting with identical 2-0 records, first met in 1929. The winner claims “The Mug,” which was donated by The Day with the first award being presented at the conclusion of the third meeting in 1931. Coast Guard currently leads the all-time series, but the Cadets won the most recent contest last September, thanks to an impressive second-half comeback.
7. Dartmouth College vs. New Hampshire: This may not be the most well-known rivalry to current football fans (and players), but the Big Green and Wildcats have met quite a few times over the past few decades. In fact, the first-ever meeting between Dartmouth and New Hampshire occurred in 1901 with the Green and White claiming a 51-0 victory. The two teams last met in 2016 but will meet again in 2021.
8. MIT-WPI: Sure, WPI’s longstanding rivalry may be RPI, but from an in-state (or in-region) opponent, it has to be MIT, right? The Engineers of Cambridge won the first six meetings – both MIT and WPI initially met in 1888 – but since 2001, the Engineers of Worcester have won six of seven contests. The two teams began playing against each other every year since 2015. Last fall, MIT snapped WPI’s six-game winning streak by securing a hard-fought win in double-overtime. The victory was MIT’s first against WPI since 1900.
9. Endicott College vs. Western New England: This always seems to be a must-see, must-follow contest, no matter the records. But for the past few years, this has been the de-facto conference championship game. The Golden Bears have won two of the last three meetings while Endicott captured the 2018 meeting. The win over WNE in 2018 provided Endicott with its sixth victory at home against its rival while snapping the Golden Bears’ 25-game conference winning streak.
10. Southern Connecticut vs. University of New Haven: The Elm City Trophy has resided in New Haven these past few seasons, but the Owls did make things interesting last October. The Chargers have won 24 of the 31 meetings in this series and will attempt to continue its recent momentum against the Owls when they visit West Haven, Connecticut later this year.
What if WPI (left) and Springfield College (right) played against some local FCS and D-II football teams?
By Matt Noonan
Trying to decipher if and when a college football season will occur this fall remains a mystery to many these days, including yours truly. But what if the upcoming season featured more regional games, specifically contests that saw the various New England FCS teams competing against D-II and D-III squads?
How about D-II and D-III teams squaring-off either under the lights or during a gorgeous October afternoon?
Could it happen? Maybe – I am not entirely sure, but it is an interesting thought, right?
While we may not know if and when a college football season will occur (or officially begin), here are a few ideas for some potential matchups that would be worth watching (or following).
American International College, Springfield College, and Western New England: How about AIC, Springfield, and WNE competing against each other to determine the best football team in Springfield, Massachusetts? Springfield and WNE have met in week one these past few years with the Pynchon SAW trophy on the line – the hardware is named after the city’s founder William Pynchon – so why not add AIC to the mix?
Holy Cross vs. New Haven: The Chargers (New Haven) are currently slated to compete against Dartmouth College in September, so why not play against the Crusaders, who advanced to their first postseason since 2009 last fall? This could be a really interesting game against two teams that finished in the top half of their respective conference last season.
Assumption College vs. WPI: I floated this potential matchup earlier this week in my ‘Noontime Commentary‘ piece about the upcoming fall sports season. I think this could be an interesting game, but I am not sure who would win. These two teams are literally down the road from each other, so we could call this game the ‘Battle of Salisbury Street.’ Thoughts?
Bentley University vs. New Hampshire: After finishing its 2019 campaign with a 6-4 record, I think these Falcons (Bentley) are ready to take on the Wildcats of New Hampshire. Whether this game is played in Waltham, Massachusetts, or Durham, New Hampshire, there would be an interest in this contest with both programs attracting a slew of student-athletes from the six New England states to their respective campus every year.
Harvard University, MIT, and Tufts University: Welcome to the ‘Battle of Cambridge and Somerville!’ Yes, I know there is already the ‘Battle for the Picket Fence’ between Cambridge Rindge & Latin and Somerville High School, so why not have Harvard, MIT, and Tufts compete for bragging rights for both cities? It could be some interesting games for sure, but in the end, Harvard would prevail. Go Crimson!