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National Collegiate Hockey Conference Releases 26-Game Season Schedule

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) released its full 26-game conference schedule today, three weeks after announcing its basic framework.

The NCHC season will be divided into two portions. The first portion will take place entirely at Baxter Arena in Omaha, Neb., where all eight teams will compete in the ‘Pod’ from Dec. 1-20. The second portion will consist of regular travel hosted on campus sites, beginning in January. Forty of the 104 games will take place in the Pod, while the remaining 64 games will occur in campus arenas.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has obviously wreaked havoc with the entire college hockey season, with leagues taking months to re-formulate schedules around mainly conference games. Hockey East and the ECAC have yet to announce schedules.

The NCHC has intentionally attempted to limit team travel. Because of this, teams were divided into two divisions based on geography for scheduling purposes: East and West. The East Division consists of Miami, Minnesota Duluth, St. Cloud State and Western Michigan. The West Division consists of Colorado College, Denver, North Dakota and Omaha. Teams will play each of their divisional opponents six times (18 games total) and each cross-division opponent twice (8 games total), with all cross-division clashes taking place in the Pod.

“The geography of the Conference makes it nearly impossible to truly regionalize the schedule, but through this unique approach, we were able to build something that provides deserving student-athletes the competitive experiences they’ve earned, while prioritizing their health and safety,” NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton said.

The schedule begins Tuesday, Dec. 1 with a doubleheader between Colorado College and host Omaha, as well as St. Cloud State taking on Western Michigan. The other four teams get under way Wednesday, Dec. 2 with defending league champion North Dakota battling Miami, while Minnesota-Duluth plays Denver. During the three weeks in the Pod, games will take place Tuesday through Sunday, with Monday an off day. Most weekdays (Tuesday-Friday) will have two games per day, while weekends (Saturday-Sunday) will have three games per day. Each team will play 10 games in the Pod, with two games against one division foe, along with the eight cross-division games. Each team will have two sets of back-to-back games and only one game during their final examination period in the Pod.

After a short break following the conclusion of the Pod on Dec. 20, the second portion of the season gets under way Thursday, Dec. 31 as North Dakota travels to Omaha to start a two-game set. All eight teams will play their rival/travel partner on each of the first two weekends of the New Year (Dec. 31-Jan. 3 and Jan. 8-9). The second portion of the season runs through Saturday, March 6, with teams only traveling to division foes. In addition to a third two-game series against their rival/travel partner, which takes place at the end of the scheduled regular season, each team will play home and away series against their other two division foes, as well.

As always, nearly every conference game in 2020-21, including games in the Pod, will be available with a subscription to NCHC.tv.

Game times for the Pod will be determined by the Conference and announced soon. Game times for the second portion of the season will be determined and released by the host institution.

The NCHC’s Return to Play protocol and overall COVID-19 testing plans will also be released in the coming weeks. At this time, no changes are planned for the 2021 NCHC Tournament. Any possible non-conference games would not occur until after the New Year, though no decisions have been made.

Igor Burdetskiy

Igor Burdetskiy

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & CEO at Hooked on Hockey Magazine
I grew up playing Ball and Roller Hockey day and night somewhat religiously throughout elementary and middle school. The two don't compare though when I lace up the skates and hit the ice. I live and breathe hockey beyond the perspective of "it's just a game" and I will gladly talk hockey for hours with anyone. Hockey is more than just a lifestyle, it's a culture of passionate people who make memories every time the puck is dropped. Hockey has not only helped me get through some of the hardest times in life but has created some of the best memories to date. Want to talk hockey with me? Shoot me an email: iburdetskiy@hookedonhockey.com and let's talk some hockey!
Igor Burdetskiy
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