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.
Like most conferences and leagues that have expressed interest in providing its student-athletes with some competition this upcoming school year, the Hockey East admitted they will confront more challenges as they inch closer to a new season. And as expected, the league – again, like others – plans to put health and safety first, along with physical and mental health, too.
More will be added to this blog post as the day progresses, so please stay tuned!
For Caty Flagg, this past season was all about enjoying the moment, while making memories of both home and away contests.
The Methuen, Massachusetts native, who played goalie for the UMass Boston women’s ice hockey team, says her goal was to not just “live in the moment,” but cherish time with her friends and teammates.
“I’ll always remember the fun times we had throughout this past season,” said Flagg, who started 25 of 26 games for the Beacons this past winter. “I’ll remember our team practices, lifts, and preseasons, but most importantly, our team dinners to hanging out (off the ice with everyone) while enjoying each other’s company.”
With Flagg between the pipes, the Beacons won 12 games while making an appearance in the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) playoffs. UMass Boston won eight conference games while capturing seven of 12 road contests.
We recently spoke with Caty Flagg about competing for the UMass Boston women’s ice hockey team, as well as her plans beyond graduation this spring.
Was there a game (or two) that you will remember most from either your senior or junior season with the Beacons? If so, which game(s) are they?
I have two memorable games. One from last season and one from this season.
Last year, we were the seventh-seed in the NECH playoffs and drew second-seed Suffolk University in the quarterfinals. We had tied and lost to Suffolk earlier in the season but for this particular game, we came in with some confidence that helped us beat them by one goal (2-1). The energy everyone exerted on this particular day was unbelievable and it was definitely one of the most exciting games I’ve ever played in.
Another memorable game was earlier this year against Colby. At the time, Colby was undefeated and ranked tenth in the country. We knew before the game that we were the underdogs, so we went in with the mindset that we had nothing to lose. And we won the game, too. It was unbelievable.
What have you enjoyed most about competing for the UMass Boston women’s ice hockey program these past two years? What will you miss most after graduation?
I would have to say, my teammates. Waking up every day and going to lifts or practices with them before a long day of classes, but everyone was always there for each other, both on and off the ice.
I am going to miss waking up every day and getting to play the game I love. It was always the best way to start off my day. I have been playing hockey since I was younger and it is going to be different not lacing up the skates each morning in the winter. I do look forward to staying in touch with my teammates, who have become great friends and will be back next year to cheer them on from the stands.
Tell me about your major. How did you choose it and what do you plan to do with it after graduation?
I’m an exercise and health sciences major so I am thinking of becoming a personal trainer after graduation.
I became interested in this subject when I attended the University of New England as a freshman and sophomore. I was able to apply what I had learned at UNE when I arrived at UMass Boston as a junior last school year.
Due to COVID-19, my summer internship with a local gym has been shifted to online courses, but I have been able to create in-home workouts, along with a health and wellness program for someone in my family, which keeps me motivated.
This particular time has allowed me to identify what I truly want to do and that is personal training as well as some coaching.
Sure, it may be ‘Super Bowl Sunday,’ but today marks the day before one of the great Boston sports traditions: The Beanpot Tournament, which is scheduled to commence tomorrow, Monday, February 3rd at the TD Garden.
Northeastern University, which won the two-day, four-team tournament last season, will attempt to capture the 68th Beanpot Tournament beginning tomorrow when they skate against Harvard University at 5 p.m.
Also competing tomorrow is Boston College and Boston University – the two rivals will square-off at 8 p.m.
Both contests, as well as next Monday’s (Feb. 10th) consolation and championship games, can be seen on NESN. For fans outside the New England region, all four games can be seen on either the NHL Network (North America) or TSN2 (Canada).
Northeastern has never won three-straight tournaments but has captured back-to-back championships twice, including the past two seasons (2018 and 2019)
Boston University, which has won 30 titles since the two-day, four-team tournament commenced in 1952 at the Boston Arena (now Matthews Arena), has not celebrated a championship since beating Northeastern in 2015.
Boston College last won the Beanpot in 2016, while Harvard ended a lengthy drought in 2017 with a 6-3 victory over Boston University.
Boston College, Harvard, and Northeastern enter tomorrow’s tournament as ranked teams, while Boston University is receiving votes, according to the latest USCHO.com poll.
2020 Beanpot Schedule
Monday, February 3rd, 2020: Harvard University vs. Northeastern University (5 p.m.)
Monday, February 3rd, 2020: Boston College vs. Boston University (8 p.m.)
Monday, February 10th, 2020: Consolation Game (BC-BU) vs. (Harvard-Northeastern) (4:30 p.m.)
Monday, February, 10th, 2020: Championship Game (BC-BU) vs. (Harvard-Northeastern) (7:30 p.m.)
2020 Beanpot Links
6 Questions about the Beanpot Tournament (Boston.com)
Katie Zimmerman was named earlier this month the first coach of the Western New England women’s ice hockey program, which is scheduled to begin competition in 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY: Diana McNamara)
By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports
Katie Zimmerman seems very excited to coach the first Western New England women’s ice hockey team, which is scheduled to play its first contest during the 2020-21 school year.
“Being able to start my own program at the college level is very, very special,” said Zimmerman, who arrives in Springfield after assisting the Amherst College women’s ice hockey team since the 2014-15 season.
“I have categorized it as a life experience (because) it is going to be both exciting and challenging, but also a full-circle feeling to build a program and help grow the game at the next level.”
A forward for the Hamilton College women’s ice hockey team, Zimmerman led the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) in goals scored during her junior and senior seasons, while also earning a pair of all-league selections.
In addition to assisting coach Jeff Matthews at Amherst, Zimmerman has prior coaching experience with USA Hockey and SUNY Cortland.
Noontime Sports recently caught-up with Zimmerman to discuss her excitement for starting the women’s ice hockey program at Western New England.
On getting a startup program started:The very first thing to do is to make sure people know about the program. So, what I have done is introduce or reintroduce myself to former colleagues and coaches at both the youth and high-school level, as well as camp directors and advisors to educate them about this new program. I have let people know that this is an exciting opportunity, not just for myself, but for so many people that are going to be able to support it, including the first-ever student-athletes that will have a chance to write the first chapter of the program’s history. Besides spreading the news, it is also time to begin building relationships with prospective student-athletes, too.
I am really excited about this opportunity. I believe in this program, and I am looking for recruits who are just as excited as I am.
On learning from prior startup women’s ice hockey programs:I do have contact with coaches that have started their own NCAA Division I and III programs, so it is very interesting to speak with them and learn how they got their programs started. There are so many interesting aspects of building an inaugural team.
On spreading the word of the new program to the entire country:The midwest and northeast are hockey hotbeds. Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Michigan are the three top states for girl’s hockey, so those are target areas, but I am casting a wide net for potential student-athletes that want to join our program. I have seen some impressive players come out of California, Colorado, and even Texas and Florida, so I am definitely spreading the news outside the northeast and making sure to focus on bringing in individuals that will set the tone for the program’s culture. I have been really lucky to chat with so many people that have provided me with ideas as to what I should do with recruiting, to the hockey x’s and o’s stuff as well, but it has been very helpful learning more about how my colleagues and coaching friends have started their respective programs.
On publicizing the news through social media: I recently launched a WNE women’s ice hockey Instagram account and plan to follow up with Twitter and Facebook soon. Social media is a primary mode of communication for so many people these days and I am excited to get some good content out there.
Katie Zimmerman competed for Hamilton College in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). (PHOTO COURTESY:
On falling in love with the sport of hockey:My love for hockey began in the driveway. I grew up on a street with many other young kids, and I would jump into street hockey games whenever I could. I loved ripping around the neighborhood on my roller blades that I had my seventh birthday party at an inline skating arena. I vividly remember going to the arena with my mom and seeing a roller hockey game being played, and I asked my mom if I could play. She signed me up on the spot. I was one of only two girls in the roller hockey league for three years before I transitioned to ice hockey at 10-years-old. I grew more and more serious about ice hockey as time went on, and my love for the sport only grew.
Some of my all-time best friends have been former teammates and many of my favorite moments revolve around hockey. And when I’m not coaching the sport, I’m a passionate follower of the National Hockey League (NHL) and a loyal Detroit Red Wings fan!
Some favorite memories of the game:I could write a book about my favorite memories. When I was a senior in high school I played for a team in Michigan called Victory Honda, and that year alone holds so many of my all-time favorite hockey memories. The best part of that year was that it felt like we were all best friends, both on and off the ice – I still keep in touch to this day) – which made every moment at the rink so much fun. I also had a blast playing in college, where every game-day felt like a holiday.