2021 Hockey East Tournament will be single-elimination, hosted at campus sites

  • Mike

Staff Writer
Published: 2/10/2021 8:02:51 PM

March Madness is coming to Hockey East. The conference announced Tuesday the 2021 tournament will begin March 10 as a single-elimination event hosted by the higher-seeded schools.

Normally the tournament’s quarterfinals were best-of-3 series hosted by the higher seeds, then the semifinals and final are single-elimination at the TD Garden in Boston.

Seeding will be determined by a newly-developed formula called the Hockey East Power Index (HEPI) since the conference’s teams have played a varied number of games.

UMass is currently the third seed with a 55.22 rating. That’s just behind No. 1 Boston College (57.82) and No. 2 Boston University (57.65).

“With the season that we’ve had, it puts us in the proper place,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “Nothing’s going to be perfect. We understand it’s difficult for them to come up with a perfect system.”

The HEPI is similar to the Pairwise formula the NCAA uses to determine the NCAA Tournament field. It “mitigates the effects of an imbalanced schedule, both in terms of number of games played and strength of opponent,” the release said. The formula considers, the number of games played, wins and losses in regulation, overtime and shootout and which team is home or away. The traditional standings based on points will not be a factor.

Since each game can potentially affect the seeds, the standings will be updated daily on Hockey East’s website. At the conclusion of the regular season, the highest ranked teams will be declared the regular-season champion and receive the regular season trophy.

All 11 men’s teams will qualify for the tournament. Previously only the top eight teams reached the postseason.

“The 2020-21 season has presented new challenges each day and Hockey East has done everything in our power to ensure a safe and fulfilling experience for our student-athletes in this difficult year,” first-year Hockey East Commissioner Steve Metcalf said in a release. “Inviting all teams into the Hockey East Tournament and using the Hockey East Power Index to seed each program respects the importance and integrity of each regular-season game.”

The top five teams automatically qualify for the quarterfinals, while the sixth through 11th seeds will pay opening round games on March 10. The quarterfinals will begin March 14 after re-seeding the remaining teams. The semifinals will take place March 17 and the final is March 20. March 7 is the last possible day for regular season games.

“Any byes you can get are important. Since it’s single elimination, you don’t want to put anything to chance,” Carvel said. “Home ice advantage is just so important. Every place in the standings you can work your way up, that might get home ice for an additional game.”

The winner of the tournament will receive Hockey East’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

UMass is currently paused from practice and games for at least another week and a half because of the university’s move to a “high risk” designation for COVID-19 spread. The Minutemen haven’t played since Jan. 30.

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