What may have been lost in the excitement of the NCHC schedule release yesterday were ominous signals from the growth of the COVID-19 pandemic and news of the first hockey team to exit the 2020-2021 season.
The University of Denver moved earlier in the week to ‘orange’ status for COVID-19, the most serious classification prior to ‘red’ which would lead to off-campus learning. The City of Denver is following with more lockdown measures and home orders as cases and hospitalizations continue to spike. The number of people currently hospitalized in the state of Colorado is 1,023, and the state’s seven-day, moving average positivity rate is 11.13%.
Nationally, the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) announced that their conference, the Liberty League, was canceling winter sports while hockey, a member of Atlantic Hockey, would cease operations this season as well. Hockey schools Clarkson, St. Lawrence, Union, and RPI — four ECAC Hockey schools — are also members of the Liberty League. According to College Hockey News, each school will make its own decision on how to move forward. At this time, the four ECAC schools are still planning a 2020-21 hockey season.
A statement from the RIT hockey team pleads with their university to reconsider their decision to drop the upcoming hockey season.
— Jake Hamacher (@jake_hammy) November 9, 2020
In the meantime, an NPR study, using a threshold of 25 or more daily new cases per 100,000 people, places every NCHC member school state in the red category. Not exactly a good place to be. The one saving grace? The Pod. Given the NBA’s and NHL’s success with bubble-like environments, there is cause for optimism that the NCHC will get the first portion of its schedule played in Omaha while simultaneously buying some time for the member institutions’ states to get back on a positive trajectory by the New Year.
Will DU hockey begin its 2020-2021 campaign December 2nd against UMD at the Omaha Pod as scheduled? At this point, who the hell knows? Be cautiously optimistic but time is running out.