Add one more moving element to the 2020-21 hockey season: The Big Ten men’s hockey tournament could be played four days earlier than originally planned.
The three-day conference tournament could move to a start on Sunday, March 14 to give teams advancing to the NCAA tournament a few more days of rest.
The Big Ten chose Notre Dame in January to host the event at Compton Family Ice Arena, the most centrally located of the seven hockey school locations.
University of Wisconsin coach Tony Granato said on Monday that the league is still “smoothing out the details” for moving the dates back.
“All coaches support it, if we play three games in three days, we don’t want that a few days before the (NCAA) tournament starts,” he said. “That would take a lot of the athletes and put us in a place where we don’t want to be.”
The Big Ten tournament was held in the higher seeds home arenas for three weekends in the previous three seasons. Due to a terse schedule in a season affected by COVID-19, it was cut to one weekend for 2021.
Under the original plan, there were three quarter-finals on March 18, two semi-finals on March 19, and the championship on March 20.
The NCAA tournament selections will be revealed on Sunday, March 21, and the regional matches begin on March 26.
The Big Ten has built an open weekend for makeup games from March 12-14, between the end of the regular season matches and the original conference tournament dates.
After only two Big Ten games had to be moved in the first two months of the season, UW’s December series in Michigan State was rebooked for March 5, and seven have been wiped out since early February.
Six were involved with Penn State, which won’t be playing a game all month.
“The most important thing, I think, for everyone at the moment is that we are all healthy for playoffs,” said Granato. “That would be great fun for all seven teams to participate in the playoffs.”
The Badgers (13-6-1 Big Ten) are in second place behind Minnesota (15-5). The best seed deserves a bye for the semi-finals. The conference decided to use the winning percentage to sort teams if the schedule became unbalanced due to delay.
There has been some clarification over the past week about how the NCAA tournament will work as well.
Mike Kemp, a former Badgers assistant coach, senior associate athletic director at Omaha and chairman of the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee, set out in a memo to the teams last week a number of criteria that will be used to complete the 10 Selecting. major participants for the 16-team field.
The low number of non-conference games played this season offset the statistical values of the Ratings Percentage Index and PairWise Rankings, which normally provide the objective process of team selection and seed allocation.
While PairWise won’t be the sole determining factor this year and subjectivity will be introduced into the process, the committee will use the PairWise components to help compare teams. Teams are judged against others based on their performance, the strength of the schedule, the head-to-head results and how they fared against regular opponents.
The Badgers are fifth in the national rankings. The polls don’t directly translate into how the committee will see them, but they provide a glimpse into the perception of the team by coaches and media members.
The NCAA tournament timeline is unchanged. Regionals are March 26-28 in Fargo, North Dakota; Loveland, Colorado; Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Albany, New York. The latest site has been added to replace Manchester, New Hampshire, Kemp told The Rink Live.
The Frozen Four is April 8-10 in Pittsburgh. The NCAA plans a capacity of up to 25% on all tournament sites, but local ordinances may require smaller gatherings.
Former Badger Center Trent Frederic became the 5,694th player to score a goal in the NHL on Sunday.
He was only the third to score his first goal in an offside. Frederic scored in the second period of the Boston Bruins’ 7-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on a course built on the 18th fairway of the Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, Nevada.
“It was a moment of squeezing yourself,” said Frederic. “When you’re outside without fans, you don’t really get the loud noise, so it took me a little bit to realize how real it was.”
Former Badgers forward Craig Smith (for Boston) and goalkeeper Brian Elliott (for Philadelphia) also played in the game.
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