The new format for the Hockey East playoffs is set to begin in 2022 and will look similar to what fans witnessed earlier this year, which saw Northeastern University (women’s postseason champions) and UMass Amherst (men’s postseason champions) capture their respective tournament.
“This new format for the Hockey East Tournament gives all of our student-athletes the chance to compete for a championship, which is undoubtedly the most exciting part of the season,” Hockey East Commissioner Steve Metcalf said via today’s release from the conference. “Hockey East is the most competitive conference in college hockey, top to bottom, and this new format will highlight the importance of every game during the season for players and fans alike.”
The 2022 Hockey East women’s postseason tournament will feature all 10 teams for the first time in conference history — the tournament will begin next February 23, 2022, with a pair of opening-round contests, which will be hosted by the seventh and eighth seeds. A few weeks later, the men’s league will begin its postseason with a trio of opening-round tilts with the sixth, seventh, and eighth seed teams serving as the hosts.
Bruce Cassidy did not hold back his emotions last night, especially after the Boston Bruins saw their comeback fall short to the New York Islanders at the TD Garden.
New York defeated Boston, 5-4, to secure a 3-2 series lead heading into tomorrow’s match-up — the Bruins need a win to extend the series to Friday. A win by the Islanders would clinch the series and set up a Stanley Cup Playoffs semifinal matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning or Carolina Hurricanes (Tampa Bay current leads the series, 3-1).
Speaking with members of the media shortly after Monday’s contest concluded, Cassidy, who is in his fifth season as the head coach of the Boston Bruins, shared some interesting thoughts regarding the one-goal loss, specifically about the officiating while referring to his opponent as the “New York Saints.”
“I think they sell a narrative over there that it’s more like the New York Saints, not the New York Islanders,” Cassidy told reporters when referring to calls that supposedly went in favor of his opponent, not the Bruins. “The exact calls that are getting called on us are not getting called on them. I don’t know why. You got the exact same high sticks … you just hope they’d see them.”
Cassidy’s post-game comments resulted in a $25,000 fine this morning, but his remarks about the “New York Saints” made me wonder if he knew there was an actual team — well, franchise, to be exact — that once competed in the National Lacrosse League (NLL)?
The New York Saints were indeed a team — in fact, they began as the New Jersey Saints. They were one of four teams to compete in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League (MLL), which would be renamed the National Lacrosse League (NLL) in 1998, and won their only championship in 1988 when they beat the Washington Wave, according to the league’s website. They would fall short of a repeat one year later when they lost to the Philadelphia Wings by a score of 11-10.
Unfortunately, the Saints would not return to the title game following their one-goal setback to Philadelphia in 1989 but did appear in the semifinals in 1990 and 1997. Their time with the league would conclude in 2003 after winning three of 16 contests.
So, the New York Saints were indeed a franchise — they were not a made-up team — but sadly, they won’t be competing against Cassidy’s squad tomorrow evening in Uniondale, New York.
It’s hard to believe this is the final Sunday of January where football will be played – yes, you will be missed – but since we have a few minutes before kickoff, allow me to share a few thoughts for the upcoming week.
As usual, thank you to everyone that has and continues to stop by, both on Sundays for this column and other content we’re producing throughout the week.
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Have a great week, everyone, and enjoy today’s football games!
Thought No. 2: I really like Josh Allen. And like I have said on previous ‘Football Friday’ podcasts, I believe he is the best quarterback that was selected in the 2018 National Football League (NFL) Draft. But today, I just don’t think he will be able to beat Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. I could see Allen and the Buffalo Bills back in this same spot next January, but today, the Chiefs will prevail. But these Bills are not going away anytime soon. They will get even better this offseason.
Thought No. 3:Friday’s news of NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) going off the air later this year was startling, but I think this plan from the three-letter network will workout just fine. Yes, this is probably a sign that NBC will put more of its sports content like hockey and car racing behind its paywall (Peacock), but it will also mean more people will tune into games and events on USA Network. NBC will be fine – don’t worry, they’re not going anywhere – but the streaming war will certainly continue if National Hockey League (NHL) or NASCAC fans have to subscribe to Peacock to watch their favorite teams and competitors.
Thought No. 5: It was nice to see three New England D-III basketball games take place yesterday – fans were treated to a pair of exciting contests between Keene State and Rhode Island College (both men’s and women’s basketball). I am rooting for these teams, along with the rest of the Little East Conference (LEC) to succeed, but I am sure everyone knows it will take an entire league effort to keep everyone safe, both this week and next month, so games can be played.
Thought No. 6: The National Women’s Hockey League‘s (NWHL) began its two-week sprint to the Isobel Cup yesterday with fans being able to watch contests on their Twitch channel. I watched some of the first game – I enjoyed it, and give the league credit with not just offering a streaming service to watch every game, but also finding other creative ways to stay connected with its fans as games are taking place in a bubble environment. Additionally, I loved the tweets from yesterday’s Boston Pride contest. Kudos to the Pride’s social media team – keep up the great work with keeping myself and others in the loop with all the action as I love what you’re tweeting!
There will be no Ivy League athletic events taking place this winter.
The Ancient Eight called off winter sports this evening due to an uptick in cases of COVID-19, both locally and around the country, while announcing fall sports, including football, would not occur during the spring semester. As for spring sports, they have been paused until “at least the end of February 2021,” per this evening’s release, which can be found on the Ivy League’s website.
Similar to the Ivy League’s announcement about fall sports in July, health and safety for both the student-athletes and coaches, along with each campus and community was a major reason why the Council of Presidents unanimously decided to cancel winter sports. However, the league did confirm that student-athletes that will not be competing this winter, as well as those that did not play games this fall, will not lose a season of Ivy League or NCAA eligibility, whether they are currently or not enrolled.
Despite competition for the winter season being canceled, the Ivy League will permit each institution to offer training opportunities and practices for its student-athletes that are enrolled on campus, but each program must adhere to the guidance issued by their respective institution as well as state and local regulations.
It is rather gloomy outside our home office, but that won’t stop us from thinking positive thoughts – we are an upbeat, positive media outlet. You know that right?
Alright, let’s get to some news, beginning with yesterday afternoon’s exciting announcement from the Hockey East.
The Hockey East Association plans to drop the puck for the 2020-21 season next Friday, November 20. Games for the opening weekend, as well as the first few weeks will be aired on NESN while other contests will be seen “through its partnership with ViacomCBSDigital.”
Metcalf would continue by adding, “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.”
According to Wednesday’s release from the Hockey East, the league’s 11 men’s teams will compete in 20 contests this winter while its 10 women’s programs will skate in 18 games.
Prior to yesterday’s announcement from the Hockey East, Atlantic Hockey shared similar news last month about its ‘return to play‘ with games beginning later this month.
Other New England NCAA D-III conferences have canceled winter sports competition, mainly conference play and championships, but did leave the door open for its various schools to pursue non-conference contests, pending it safe to do so.
According to D3Hoops.com, only a small number of conferences and schools have elected to cancel or “call off” competition for its winter sports teams. And there are a few schools on this list from both Massachusetts and other parts of New England.
While we do like to keep things positive, we do need to share a heartbreaking (and very sad) report: Penn State‘s Journey Brown is retiring from football due to heart condition, which the 21-year-old halfback discovered during “a routine COVID-19 test in early September.”
The news of Brown’s retirement was announced last night by his coach James Franklin, who did tell reporters that the condition is not related to COVID-19.