While other NCAA hockey conferences have been busy announcing their schedules for the 2020-21 season, delayed and shortened but a season nonetheless, the Ivy League schools have decided to go in a different direction. In a joint announcement between the eight member institutions, the Ivy League announced that they will forego all winter sports this year as a result of the continuing Coronavirus pandemic. While the conference itself does not sponsor hockey, six of its members participate in the the ECAC: Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. All will sit out the season following this decisions.
While this had been a fear of many since the conference canceled all sports in the fall semester, eliminating the possibility of hockey until late December at the earliest, there was hope that with other conferences opting to face the challenge and spare the season that the Ivy League’s would fall in line as well. After all, hockey is the most high-profile sport for those six schools who sponsor the sport at the Division I level. However, they stated that they felt that canceling all winter sports was the best decision “with the health & wellbeing of student-athletes & the greater campus community in mind.”
On an overall NCAA hockey scale, the loss of the Ivy League removes perennial contenders such as Cornell and Harvard from the mix this season. It also leaves the ECAC with just six other active teams; the conference has yet to announce a schedule for the coming season but will have very few options outside of repeated match-ups between their remaining teams.
On an individual basis, the loss of this season will have a major effect on a number of NHL prospect. While some opted not to wait for the Ivy League’s to make this decision – presumptive 2021 first-round pick Matthew Beniers and recent Boston Bruins draft pick Trevor Kuntar are among those who transferred to other schools this summer, while some incoming freshmen deferred, and some upperclassmen turned pro early – many others are left without a collegiate season. They will have to decide if they want to stay at school and perhaps try to find a local junior team to play with or if instead they will search for a landing spot in the USHL or elsewhere. Seniors and even some others could still opt to sign their entry-level contracts as well. The NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility to all winter athletes, but that means little to those with NHL dreams who are not looking to put off turning pro for an extra year. Fortunately, many of those affected have already begun playing elsewhere or have plans to do so and hopefully all will be able to find a suitable locale for the season. Below is a list of all of the drafted NHL prospects left without a collegiate season in light of the Ivy League’s winter sports cancellation:
Princeton: F Liam Gorman, So. (PIT)
*Stienberg is expected to play with the West Kelowna Warriors of the BCHL this season
**Farinacci will play with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL this season
***Laferriere is expected to play with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL this season
****Thrun will play with the Dubuque Fightning Saints of the USHL this season
*****Wong is expected to play with the Fargo Force of the USHL this season