Hockey East Releases Tentative 2013-14 Boston College Conference Schedule

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Hockey East Commissioner releases tentative 2013-14 conference schedule. Schools to play 20 conference games and the tournament includes all 11 institutions.

With Notre Dame joining Hockey East starting next season, the league will expand to 11 clubs in 2013-14. On Friday, the league has released its tentative Hockey East league schedule, giving us a glimpse into what the Eagles' schedule will look like next season.

The 2013-2014 schedule features each program playing two league games against each opponent (as opposed to three under the current schedule format). Most season series will be in the form of a home-and-home, while others -- notably for Notre Dame, Maine and Vermont -- will be two home, with two away the following year, or vice-versa.

Notre Dame, in its first year in the league, will draw Merrimack, Massachusetts, Northeastern, Maine and Boston University at home next season and will travel to Boston College, Lowell, Providence, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Here is the Eagles' tentative 2013-14 conference schedule:

October
Saturday, 5 -- First allowable day of practice
Friday, 11
Saturday, 12
Friday, 18
Saturday, 19
Friday, 25
Saturday, 26

November
Friday, 1 -- at Northeastern*
Saturday, 2 -- NORTHEASTERN*
Friday, 8 -- at Boston University*
Saturday, 9 -- WISCONSIN (tentative)
Friday, 15 -- at Massachusetts*
Saturday, 16 -- MASSACHUSETTS*
Saturday, 23 -- MAINE*
Tuesday, 26 -- PROVIDENCE*
Friday, 29
Saturday, 30

December
Friday, 6 -- NEW HAMPSHIRE*
Saturday, 7 -- at New Hampshire*
Holiday Tournament -- Three Rivers Classic vs. Bowling Green / Penn State / Robert Morris
Holiday Tournament -- Three Rivers Classic vs. Bowling Green / Penn State / Robert Morris

January
Saturday, 11 -- at Brown
Friday, 17 -- BOSTON UNIVERSITY*
Saturday, 18 -- MAINE*
Tuesday, 21 -- at Merrimack*
Friday, 24
Saturday, 25
Friday, 31 -- at Providence*

February
Monday, 3 -- vs. Boston University, Beanpot (Boston, Ma.)
Friday, 7 -- MERRIMACK*
Monday, 10 -- vs. Harvard / Northeastern, Beanpot (Boston, Ma.)
Friday, 14 -- at Vermont*
Saturday, 15 -- at Vermont*
Friday, 21 -- UMASS LOWELL*
Saturday, 22 -- at UMass Lowell*
Friday, 28 -- NOTRE DAME*

March
Saturday, 1 -- NOTRE DAME*
Friday-Sunday, 7-9 -- Hockey East Tournament Opening Round (On Campus)
Friday-Sunday, 14-16 -- Hockey East Tournament Quarterfinal Round (On Campus)
Friday-Saturday, 21-22 -- Hockey East Tournament Championship Round (Boston, Ma.)

Some thoughts:

-- As Boston College has done for two of the last three seasons, the Eagles will open up conference play on the road at Northeastern on Friday, November 1. I guess opening with Northeastern is a thing now. The Huskies return to Conte for the Eagles' home opener a night later on Saturday, November 2.

-- The first of the two games between BC and Boston University comes early, Friday, November 8. The Terriers make the return trip down the B line on Friday, January 17. The third BC-BU game will occur in the Beanpot. Yes, it's one of those awkward years where the Eagles and Terriers will not meet in the Beanpot Championship Game. I'm glad that the schedule-makers didn't do something as stupid as have BC-BU finish up before December 2 as they did this year. Still, I'm not sure whether I like the fact that both league games are on Friday nights. That's a little weird.

-- The Saturday after the first BC-BU game will be reserved for a non-conference home game against the Big Ten's Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers travel to Boston for a two-game weekend series with BC and BU and will likely play Boston U. on Friday night and BC on Saturday, November 9.

-- Based on the home-road pairings this year, BC will again host Maine for both games this year (November 23 and January 18), while having to go back up to Burlington for two against the Catamounts (February 14-15). BC will also end the year with two home games against Notre Dame (February 28-March 1).

-- If the season shapes up as it has this year, BC has two games in late February with rather large PairWise implications when the Eagles face the River Hawks in a weekend home-and-home on February 21-22.

-- The regular season finale against the Irish seems awesome at face until you realize that's the first weekend of Boston College's 2014 spring break. Total, mind-numbingly stupid HEA scheduling fail. However ...

-- The tentative schedule that Hockey East released does not include any potential Frozen Fenway games. If BC-Notre Dame and BU-Maine are going to be part of a Frozen Fenway event next season, I'd imagine the league will shuffle around the Eagles-Irish series to occur at some point in January or early February.

-- By virtue of having an odd number of teams, UMass earns the honor of ending the regular season without a conference opponent. Again, this may change if / when Frozen Fenway is scheduled. As its currently scheduled, it looks like BC's mid-season non-conference weekend will be either November 29-30 or January 24-25.

-- The other major change in 2013-14 is the format of the Hockey East Tournament. The 2014 Hockey East Tournament will look like this:

Opening Round: Best of Three (Campus Sites - Teams #1 thru #5 receive byes.)
Friday-Sunday, March 7-9, 2014
#6 hosts #11
#7 hosts #10
#8 hosts #9

Quarterfinal Round: Best of Three (Campus Sites)
Friday-Sunday, March 14-16, 2014
#1 hosts Lowest Remaining Seed from #6-11
#2 hosts Next Lowest Remaining Seed from #6-11
#3 hosts Highest Remaining Seed from #6-11
#4 hosts #5

Championship Round (TD Garden)
Semifinals on Friday, March 21, 2014
Final on Saturday, March 22, 2014

So. Much. Fail.

One of the great things about the Hockey East Tournament is that top seeds are playing meaningful college hockey games every weekend down the stretch. That's no longer the case with the proposed format. Next season, the top five teams in the final regular season league standings will receive a first round bye to the Quarterfinals round. Teams #6-11 will play a best-of-three series on the first weekend following the regular season to determine which clubs advance to the quarterfinals.

I'm not a fan of the top teams remaining idle the weekend after the regular season. While teams will get an extra week to rest up and get healthy, my feeling is that the extra week off hurts more than it helps not only in determining the league champ, but also when it comes to the National Tournament. Hard to argue against this point when you consider:

2008: Boston College
2009: Boston University
2010: Boston College
2012: Boston College

The other issue is that by extending the conference postseason tournament by a week, the league is forced to schedule midweek games starting next season. Boston College has two in 2013-14 -- home vs. Providence on November 26 and at Merrimack on January 21. I have the feeling the league will see a significant drop off in attendance for regularly scheduled midweek league games. The other factor is that Maine and Notre Dame, by virtue of being the league's two geographical outliers, won't play in midweek games next season. Not exactly the most equitable scheduling arrangement.

Leave your thoughts on the schedule below.

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