In a press release on Tuesday afternoon, the Big Ten Conference announced that the 2020-21 hockey season will begin as soon as November 13, 2020, and will feature 24-game conference schedules, plus an additional four games per school against Arizona State University hosted at Big Ten venues.
“The 2020-21 hockey season builds on the rich traditions of Big Ten Hockey and brings new competitive opportunities to the Conference with the Arizona State University scheduling agreement,” said Commissioner Kevin Warren. “As our teams return to competition, we will continue to keep the health and safety of our student-athletes at the forefront of our decisions.”
The Badgers already had scheduled games against the Sun Devils this year and were also going to be competing against them in the inaugural Holiday Face-off in Milwaukee at the end of December.
As far as the conference tournament is concerned, it will be returning to a one-weekend affair instead of being spread out over multiple weekends. Per the press release:
“The 2021 Big Ten Hockey Tournament will return to the one-weekend, single-elimination format used during the first four years of Big Ten hockey and will feature all seven conference teams – Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin. The tournament will be held March 18-20 and will consist of six games (three games on Thursday; two games on Friday; and the championship game on Saturday).”
“The 2020-21 schedule and the modified Big Ten Tournament format have been structured in a way that maximizes flexibility for the season,” said Red Berenson, Special Advisor to the Commissioner, Hockey Operations.
Big Ten hockey teams will follow the same medical protocols that were developed by the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force and announced on Sept. 16, 2020, including daily antigen testing, enhanced cardiac screening and an enhanced data-driven approach when making decisions about practice/competition. Arizona State has agreed to adhere to the same testing protocols as the Big Ten Conference.
The full 2020-21 Big Ten hockey schedule, including times and television designations, as well as further details regarding the 2021 Big Ten Hockey Tournament (like where it will take place) will be announced at a later date, the conference said.
It’s a great day for hockey, folks!
UPDATE, 10/7/20, 6:15 a.m. CT: Here are some quotes from head coach Tony Granato about the season being set to start in November.
#Badgers coach Tony Granato said he's excited that the Big Ten was the first to announce a start date:— Todd Milewski (@ToddMilewski) October 6, 2020
"I think a lot of leagues have been waiting for somebody to set the tone of feeling comfortable playing."