Will Hammer (16) battles for net-front position in Saturday’s loss. Photo courtesy of SCSU Men’s Hockey.
After much debate and many questions about this upcoming NCAA hockey season, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, has decided to move forward with their season a little differently than everyone else. Recently the conference has finalized their plans to play the upcoming season in a centralized location or pod as others call it.
The plans include all NCHC teams competing in a 26-game conference only schedule, with a majority of the games being played in the pod that will be located in Omaha, Nebraska. The NCHC will split the conference into two divisions based on geography. On the west side, the teams of Colorado College, Denver, North Dakota and Omaha will compete against each other divisional opponents six times which equals out to 18-games total. They will also play their cross divisional opponents twice which equals out to the remaining eight games. This is the same for the east side of the conference which consists of Miami, Minnesota Duluth, Western Michigan and our St. Cloud State Huskies.
“Throughout the past eight months we have learned to adjust and think creatively about how we live our personal and professional lives,” NCHC Commissioner Josh Fenton said in a press conference following the announcement. “I’m proud of our membership for their entrepreneurial spirit to build a concept grounded in health and safety that we believe gives a group of deserving student-athletes the best opportunity to conduct a successful season.”
A lot of answers to many questions are still up in the air regarding the upcoming season, like what the schedule will exactly look like and if any fans will be allowed in Omaha. We do know why the NCHC decided to host this pod format in Nebraska.
“The testing and medical support was Priority No. 1 when we were considering the concept and ultimately when we were determining the location, there’s no doubt about that,” Fenton said. “We have a world-class medical facility in the City of Omaha with the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Luckily for SCSU fans, play at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center will happen this year, but not until the second portion of the season. The conference expects to begin play in the pod on Dec. 1 and then the second part of the season will begin following the new year. Regulations at The Herb and other venues in the NCHC will be made by the universities.
We have seen the pod or bubble system recently in professional ranks with the NBA spending a lot of time in Orlando, the NHL holding two bubbles in Canada, and the MLB implementing a bubble system for their postseason. This would be the first time an NCAA conference has implemented a pod system. There is no way to fully isolate college students from the outside world like we have seen done in the professional level. The NCHC hopes their pod will be as restrictive as possible in Omaha, but the pod for these student-athletes will not be as strict, but it is a priority to keep all athletes and personnel safe during this upcoming season.
The trip over to The Herb to catch Husky hockey on the weekend will not be able to happen for a while, unfortunately. If you want to watch SCSU play live during their time in the pod, all games will be streamed on NCHC.tv available with purchase of a subscription.