GRAND FORKS, N.D. — It's becoming apparent that the college hockey season will not go off as originally planned.
Although it's only mid-May, college hockey teams are already starting to call off nonconference road trips that require airplane flights because of anticipated budget crunches due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The first domino has already fallen. Holy Cross has canceled its two-game series at Arizona State.
It won't be the last.
A source says that Boston College and Northeastern are expecting St. Cloud State to call off its October trip to Boston, where it was scheduled to play one game against each team. St. Cloud State says a final decision on the Boston trip is pending and should be made in about two weeks.
According to another source, Boston University is having high-level discussions about trying to move its two-game series at Northern Michigan to 2021-22, if possible.
"It is what it is," Arizona State coach Greg Powers said after losing its two games with Holy Cross. "We have a ton of respect for David (Berard, the Holy Cross head coach) and that program. We have a great relationship with them. Once this clears up, they're going to come back out. We'll go from there. I think he was very disappointed he had to make that call. It's completely out of anybody's control. It's the budget they have to operate from in this situation."
So far, none of UND's nonconference opponents have pulled out of scheduled games.
Earlier this month, Ralph Engelstad Arena sent a letter to fans saying that, at this time, the Nashville game against Penn State is on as scheduled. UND's other nonconference series — home/away against Bemidji State, home vs. Minnesota, home vs. Niagara, home vs. Northern Michigan and at Cornell — are still on as well.
But more scheduling dominoes are expected to fall in the coming weeks and months.
A unique spot
College hockey conferences have started creating alternative schedules in case the season does not start on time.
The team in the most unique spot is Arizona State, the only independent of 60 Division-I men's college hockey teams. It relies solely on nonconference airplane trips to fill out its schedule.
Powers said that the Sun Devils are still in a good spot even after the Holy Cross series cancellation. At this point, that's the only schedule change for Arizona State.
The Sun Devils have 14 home games and 20 road games on the schedule, a full 34-game season. It had originally scheduled 36 games, because it is scheduled to travel to Alaska Anchorage. Games in Alaska are exempt from the 34-game schedule limit.
"We're in close contact with everybody," Powers said. "We're to the point where we've had detailed discussions about hotel arrangements and all that stuff. We're committed to our schedule from a travel standpoint. We know as an independent that we're not going to cancel road games.
"Whatever happens happens. There's still so much unknown. The worst thing we can do is negatively speculate. We're just going to plan like we're moving forward, because in our minds, we are."