Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Big Ten, Hockey East Issue Challenge

After January's sellout, the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff has a say in a trophy this season.

At the Hockey East media day on Tuesday, the conference announced that it will conduct a 13-game "challenge" with the Big Ten from October 18th through 27th similar to the well-established, and probably more familiar to Penn Staters, Big Ten-ACC Challenge in basketball.

The Nittany Lions only play one game as part of the challenge - the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff against Vermont in Philadelphia on October 26th - but it's actually quite an important one in terms of the league showdown. Should the Big Ten and Hockey East end in a tie after all games are completed (two points will be given for a win, one for a tie and a bonus point for a road win), the PSU-UVM result will serve as the tiebreaker. Outside of that catfight, six games will be played in Hockey East venues on the first weekend, October 18th and 19th, with six games in the Big Ten's arenas following on the October 25th through 27th weekend.

Five of the 13 games have already been picked up by various television outlets, including the Philly Faceoff which, according to Hockey East, will air on Comcast outlets in both Philadelphia (The Comcast Network) and New England (Comcast SportsNet New England).

It's not immediately clear whether this will be an annual event, but given that the involved parties are tossing around the word "inaugural" and the fact that there will be a trophy called the "Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge Cup," the sane money is on yes.

Shortly after the challenge ends, Penn State will welcome Hockey East's UMass-Lowell to Pegula Ice Arena for a bit of a follow-up on November 14th and 15th. The River Hawks, the 2013 Hockey East regular season and tournament champs and also a Frozen Four participant, were tabbed as the number one team in the league at media day, one day after receiving the top spot nationally in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine preseason rankings.

Here's the full press release from Hockey East, including the entire slate of games at the bottom.

Eleven of the country's most storied college hockey programs will compete this fall in the inaugural Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge, it was announced today by the Big Ten Conference and the Hockey East Association. Eleven different institutions will participate in 13 designated games to be played between October 18-27, with six games in Hockey East arenas on the first weekend, followed by six games in Big Ten arenas and a single game on neutral ice on the second weekend.

"The Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge will offer a tremendous opportunity to build a relationship between our two conferences and to promote the strong traditions of college hockey on a national level," said Big Ten Associate Commissioner Jennifer Heppel. "The student-athletes will also benefit from the chance to take part in meaningful non-conference competition against other top programs."

"The college hockey landscape is going through a major change this season and each conference needs to look beyond its familiar boundaries," said Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna. "We have great respect for the hockeyplaying institutions in the Big Ten and we hope to develop this concept to allow all of our programs to participate in this competition in future years."

A Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge Cup will be presented to the conference that records the most points from the 13 games. Points will be awarded as follows: two points for a win, one point for a tie and a bonus point for a road win. Should a Big Ten school utilize a shootout in any of its home games, it will not factor into the result. Should each conference record the same number of points, the results of the Penn State - Vermont game, played on neutral ice, will serve as the tie-breaker.

The seventeen schools that play in these two conferences have compiled an unparalleld record of success in the history of college hockey, combining to claim 33 national championships during the 66 seasons that the NCAA has sponsored the sport. Of the 11 schools participating in the inaugural Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge, five took part in last season's NCAA Championship.

Below is the full schedule for the inaugural Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge:

Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge Schedule
(All times EST and 7:00 p.m. unless noted)

Friday, October 18
Wisconsin at Boston College
Michigan State at Massachusetts
Michigan at New Hampshire (7:30 p.m.)

Saturday, October 19
Wisconsin at Boston University
Michigan State at Massachusetts
Michigan at New Hampshire

Friday, October 25
Boston College at Minnesota (8:00 p.m.)*
Boston University at Michigan#
UMass Lowell at Michigan State@

Saturday, October 26
Boston University at Michigan State
UMass Lowell at Michigan#
Penn State vs. Vermont %
(Philadelphia, PA - 5:00 p.m.)

Sunday, October 27
Boston College at Minnesota (2:00 p.m.)^

* Big Ten Network
# XFINITY Channel 900
@ Fox Sports Detroit
% Comcast Philadelphia and New England
^ Fox Sports North and Sports Time Ohio


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