UMass bars fans from Mullins Center for Hockey East quarterfinals

Staff Writer
Published: 3/11/2020 8:19:05 PM

AMHERST — In conjunction with the school’s move to online classes starting after spring break, UMass has decided to play its Hockey East Tournament best-of-three quarterfinal series with Northeastern without spectators at the Mullins Center this week due to COVID-19.

The move was announced along with UMass-Lowell – which will play its home quarterfinals series with Boston University in an empty Tsongas Center – as part of the entire University of Massachusetts system’s response to the pandemic. Later in the day, Boston College announced it was going to play its quarterfinal series against Providence without fans.

“The University of Massachusetts and the Department of Athletics is committed to protecting the health and well-being of all members of our community,” according to a statement released by the school.

Hockey East is providing a free webstream through the CBS All-Access Platform for Friday’s 7:15 p.m. puck drop. Saturday’s 7 p.m. game and Sunday’s 5 p.m. game (if necessary) will be broadcast on NESNplus.

The Atlantic 10 followed suit Wednesday night by limiting attendance at the Barclays Center in New York to teams, network television, working media, essential personnel, and team affiliated families/guests. UMass, the No. 8 seed, will play the first game of the A10 Tournament without fans at noon Thursday against ninth-seeded VCU. The game will be televised on NBCSN.

“Although this was a difficult decision it’s imperative that the Atlantic 10 act in the best interest of our student-athletes, teams and member institutions,” A10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade said in a statement. “This a very unique and serious situation given the global impact of COVID-19, and as disappointing as this is for our fans and spectators, this decision had to be made.”

Unlike its five-college counterparts, UMass has not made a final decision on the future of spring sports. The men’s lacrosse game against Utah, scheduled to be played Saturday at Farmingdale State College in Farmingdale, New York, has been shifted to Friday at 3 p.m. at Garber Field. The men’s lacrosse team had its March 21 game at Brown cancelled due to the Ivy League’s decision Wednesday to cancel spring sports this season.

At the moment, UMass women’s lacrosse is still scheduled to face Towson on Saturday in Maryland. The baseball team is still on schedule to travel to Wofford for a three-game series this weekend while the softball team is still planning to head to Liberty for five games at the Liberty Challenge in Lynchburg, Virginia.

The NCAA made the decision earlier Wednesday to banish fans from the national tournaments. The move came on the recommendation of the organization’s COVID-19 advisory panel.

“While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes. We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families.”




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