By Drew Steele / @wooitsdrew / firstname.lastname@example.org
On a typical year, the NCHC and its media would all meet at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul for the conference’s media day. Living in the world that is 2020, though, the conference took the day virtually. NCHC Media Day will be stretched over Monday and Tuesday of this week.
As he does every season, commissioner Fenton kicked off the day. He sat down with the media for just under an hour answering questions from across three different time zones.
Before questions started coming his way, the commissioner gave a mini version of his State of the Conference speech. He mentioned the way that the NCHC is conducting the pod in Omaha is something that is different than any other conference in hockey or any sport is conducting things. This took outside the box thinking to bring in the pod in Omaha for the first part with the regionalized schedule in the second half of the season.
Once questions started coming his way, the commissioner said that he hopes the non-traditional schedule of the bubble will be something that fans around the conference and college hockey community will enjoy. The schedule he was talking about was with each team playing ten games in twenty days.
NHL and NBA Bubble Similarities
He mentioned that the conference and the universities have had the most communication ever in the past eight months to make the season be a go. Other things that helped the conference start the season up next week were the bubbles in the NHL and NBA. The commissioner said that there is “a lot of things that we can take from it” (referring to the bubbles).
While still talking of the NHL and NBA, he mentioned the difference between a pod and a bubble. The NCHC is running a bubble, but it was still worth a few calls with the NHL for tips on some things within the pod. These discussions ranged from big things to things as little as how to handle towels for eight different teams and officials.
He mentioned that he expects outside eyes from around college athletics to have their eyes set on the Omaha pod. This is due to the fact that other conferences and athletics could attempt to do something similar.
Testing Within The Pod
Testing has started already for the teams entering the bubble. This is because each of the teams is in a seven day quarantine period to make sure everyone going into Omaha is healthy. The testing protocols for this week includes three tests on non-consecutive days this week.
Once the pod begins, testing will occur on game days for the most part with antigen test results expected to come back within the hour. Once a week, though, the teams will be tested the day before games. This is because once a week teams will receive PCR tests.
Teams have been allocated 42 people to go inside of the bubble, which will be divided into three different tiers. Players, coaches, and other essential to play staff are listed as tier one. The tiers are made for testing more than anything.
The bubble opens next week on Tuesday with SCSU slated to play against Western Michigan with puck drop at 7:35.