Boston College is typically one of the last Hockey East programs to release its annual men's hockey schedule. But we can get a sense of what the schedule will look like as other programs begin to release their 2011-12 schedules.
Here's what we know so far:
Next season, the Eagles will participate in three of the country's premier college hockey tournaments -- the Ice Breaker, the Great Lakes Invitational and the annual Beanpot Tournament.
This year's Ice Breaker will be played on October 7-8 in Grand Forks, North Dakota. This year's tournament features BC, North Dakota, Michigan State and Air Force. The Ice Breaker was originally scheduled to take place in St. Louis for the second straight season, but a scheduling conflict with the Blues moved this year's tournament to Ralph Engelstad Arena. While opening round pairings haven't been announced, I'd imagine BC will play either Michigan State or Air Force in the first round to set up the potential for a BC-North Dakota Ice Breaker Championship Game.
Over the Christmas break, BC will participate in the annual Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The Great Lakes Invitational is Detroit's response to Boston's Beanpot, and typically features co-hosts Michigan Tech and Michigan, Michigan State and a different fourth team every year. This season, BC will take on Michigan in the first round and Michigan State or Michigan Tech in the second game. The Eagles will be making their fourth appearance in the Great Lakes Invitational, having last participated in the event (and winning it) in 2003.
BC's first round opponent in next season's Beanpot will be Northeastern and then Boston University or Harvard in the Consolation / Championship round.
After these three tournaments, York and the Eagles have room for four other non-conference games. Boston College will reportedly host Denver on October 14 and travel to the Yale Whale to take on Yale on November 26.
Overall, the strength of the non-conference schedule is definitely an upgrade from last season. BC goes from a non-conference, non-Beanpot slate of Denver (x2), Notre Dame, Colgate and Mercyhurst to a schedule that will likely include North Dakota, Michigan State or Air Force, Michigan, Michigan State or Michigan Tech, Denver and Yale. Participating in two great non-conference, non-Beanpot tournaments plus getting a crack at Yale -- who spent much of this season as the #1 team in the nation -- is definitely a pretty awesome non-conference sched.
In Hockey East, Fear The Triangle got a sneak peek at the Minutemen's 2011-12 schedule. The Minutemen make the trip to Conte Forum on October 21, and BC makes the return trip to the 'Zoo on November 5 and January 13. In addition to UMass, here are BC's home/road splits for next season:
Two home games: Boston University, Merrimack, Northeastern, Providence, Vermont
Two road games: Lowell, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire
We will have more updates as Hockey East programs officially release their schedules for next season.