NBC Sports allies itself with college hockey

And in a move that will make this Boston College graduate drool like Homer over a plate of pork chops…

NEW YORK – The Hockey East Association and NBC Sports Network announced on Tuesday a multi-year deal to broadcast Hockey East games live, including the 2012 Hockey East Tournament at the TD Garden in Boston, Mass.

The Hockey East regular-season schedule will begin on NBC Sports Network with two games hosted by the University of Vermont on February 10 against Boston College at Gutterson Fieldhouse and February 24 vs. Boston University. NBC will also broadcast a Hockey East quarterfinal game on Friday, March 9 and then will continue their tournament coverage the following weekend on Friday, March 16 with the semifinal games at 5 and 8pm and the 28th Hockey East Championship Game on Saturday, March 17 (8pm) from the TD Garden.

“The landscape in college hockey is about to go through a significant change. Television will become even more important to all programs with national aspirations and national television will become a key to future success,” said Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna. “This agreement will play a major role in our ability to stay in a leadership position in our sport.”

The games are part of a 16-game college hockey schedule slated to start on VERSUS, which will be rebranded as the NBC Sports Network on Jan. 2, on Saturday, December 31, when Notre Dame hosts Boston University (7 p.m.). This season’s schedule, which marks the first time that the NBC Sports Group will air college hockey games, was developed through partnerships with numerous collegiate hockey conferences and universities.

“We are excited to be launching our first-ever college hockey package by building a destination on Friday nights on the NBC Sports Network with many of the preeminent brands in the sport,” said Jon Miller, President of Programming for NBC Sports Group.

The college hockey telecasts will be produced by the same Emmy Award-winning team that oversees all of the NHL games for the NBC Sports Group, led by Sam Flood, executive producer for NBC Sports and VERSUS.

The Hockey East Association is a 10-team Division I college men’s hockey conference founded in 1984 and an eight-team Division I women’s league which began play in 2002-03. The men’s league has won seven NCAA championships in the past 19 years.

Since 1999, Hockey East has won five NCAA Championships and have placed 18 teams in the Frozen Four, along with 45 teams in the NCAA Tournament.

Courtesy of Hockey East

Date Matchup Time
Saturday, December 31 Boston University at Notre Dame 7:00pm
Friday, February 10 Boston College at Vermont 7:30pm
Friday, February 24 Boston University at Vermont 7:30pm
Friday, March 9 Hockey East Quarterfinal Game #1 7:30pm
Friday, March 16 Hockey East Semifinal Game #1 5:00pm
  Hockey East Semifinal Game #2 8:00pm
Saturday, March 17 Hockey East Championship Game 8:00pm

Editor’s Note: While I only saw this story posted in regards to Hockey East, I have since discovered it extends to ECAC Hockey and the WCHA. Notre Dame also garners extra views in light of the university’s long-standing affiliation with NBC.

Conspicuously absent is the CCHA, which likely faces extinction based on the proposed conference realignments in 2013 — which is a pity. I have something to say on the issue in a post scheduled for early next week. Stay tuned.