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There Just Might Be Hockey In Orono After all

The hope for a University of Maine hockey season got higher on Wednesday afternoon.

Hockey East announced that the league intends to play the 2020-21 season in its entirety while emphasizing competition between league members.

A start date and schedules have not been announced. but this is good news for UMaine and its Hockey East brethren.

Realistically, non-conference games were not going to happen in college hockey this year, especially after major college football conferences announced plans to have teams play within the leagues.

So that means no trip to Omaha for the Black Bears this winter after the Mavericks played a two-game series in Maine last winter.

Now, you may ask, what does this mean for UMaine?

Hockey East fully intends on constructing balanced scheduling models to ensure player and staff safety. Whether or not fans will be allowed inside Alfond Arena this winter remains to be seen.

Of all the teams in Hockey East, UMaine traditionally faces the longest road trips. It takes roughly 2 hours and 45 minutes just to get out of Maine if you're traveling by bus from Orono, and that's if the weather isn't lousy. I'm sure Hockey East will want to have road teams implement "down and back" bus trips in which hotel stays are not necessary.

"Hockey East's geography allows the league to conduct conference competition, including the men's and women's championships, while mitigating non-essential travel and allowing maximum flexibility to adjust its schedule based on every-changing developments and best medical practices surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic," the league said in a statement released Wednesday.

The travel situation in terms of how UMaine will handle its road trips remains to be seen, but for now, we as journalists and fans should be thrilled Hockey East plans to make an effort to get the 2020-21 season started and completed safely.

We probably won't see the puck drop until December at the earliest. We probably won't see fans inside the Alfond unless Governor Mills increases the amount of people allowed at indoor gatherings in Maine - it remains at 50 - and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Hockey East and its institutions have the health and well-being of its student-athletes, coaches and staff at heart, and while it will be unusual to see no non-conference games, this is the only way we're going to see a college hockey season.

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