UPDATE: The ECAC Hockey men’s tournament is canceled. Click here to read more.
This post has been updated.
Yale men’s hockey today became the second Ivy League team to pull out of the ECAC Tournament, following Harvard’s lead amidst COVID-19 fears, the league announced Wednesday evening. In response, the ECAC re-seeded the playoff field, with top-seeded Cornell and No. 2 seed Clarkson receiving another bye weekend and a spot in the semifinals at Lake Placid.
The No. 7 Bulldogs were slated to play at No. 3 Quinnipiac for the ECAC quarterfinals this weekend. Cornell, which already had a bye for the first round of the playoffs and was scheduled to face No. 11 Princeton in the quarterfinals, will get yet another weekend off.
In a matter of days, the Red’s weekend plans have undergone multiple dramatic transformations. Cornell announced on Tuesday that spectators would be barred from Lynah Rink for the ECAC quarterfinals against Princeton — now, that series won’t happen at all. Suddenly, the team has discovered that it’s already played its last game on home ice.
“It’s a little bittersweet, I think, obviously,” junior forward and captain Morgan Barron said on Wednesday night. “It was a goal of ours to make it [to Lake Placid], but this is certainly not the way we wanted it to happen. We all were looking forward to playing games this weekend and especially our last games at Lynah for the year.”
Cornell seniors expressed ahead of the last home game of the regular season that they considered the ECAC quarterfinals to be their real Senior Day. Back in late February, it was unfathomable that the Red wouldn’t play in front of the Lynah Faithful until next fall.
The constant changes are just one more stressor for a team preparing for playoffs that seem like they will never arrive.
“I’m trying to keep off my phone because it feels like every 10 or 15 minutes, it’s different tweets or emails or text messages coming through,” Barron said. “It’s mayhem … It’s disappointing, the situation sucks but, you know, like I said, we’re going to control what we can control and just be ready to play when we get a chance to play.”
But such unpredictability is the nature of a global pandemic. Though the subject of Cornell’s potential withdrawal has come up within the team, there is no clear answer as to what the future will hold.
“I’m really not in a position to answer [whether Cornell will forfeit], I don’t really know,” Barron said. “I should hope not. We’ll see how things go — as far as I know, our plan right now is to keep playing.”
No word has come out on whether the ECAC semifinals and championship game will be played without spectators. Meanwhile, the NCAA announced on Wednesday that all of its tournaments — hockey included — will close their doors to fans in an effort to promote social distancing.
The team, which played in the Fortress Invitational in Las Vegas in January after multiple weeks without games, is hoping that that positive experience will carry over into this second hiatus.
“Vegas was probably one of the better games we’ve had this year, so we’re just kind of treating [the two bye weeks] like we would Christmas break,” Barron said.
Clarkson, as the No. 2 seed in the ECAC Tournament, will be the other team to go to Lake Placid on March 20 without playing any other playoff games prior.
No. 11 Princeton will travel to take on No. 3 Quinnipiac. No. 8 Colgate will face No. 4 Rensselaer. The Engineers were previously slated to take on Harvard.
The ECAC semifinal is currently scheduled for March 20 at Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, New York.