In this December 2019 photo, Massachusetts' Jack Sutter (10) attempts to shoot the puck past University of Maine goalie Jeremy Swayman as Black Bears Jakub Sirota (left, above) and Ben Poisson help out during an NCAA college hockey game in Amherst, Mass. Hockey East has announced that its schedule this season will consist only of games between league schools. Credit: J. Anthony Roberts / The Republican via AP

The University of Maine men’s hockey team has 20 Hockey East games and seven non-conference contests on its schedule, which was released this week.

The Black Bear women’s hockey team has a 26-game schedule with eight non-conference games to go with 18 Hockey East games.

UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy has not yet determined whether Black Bear teams will be allowed to compete during the winter season.

Under league guidelines, all non-conference contests this season will also be against Hockey East opponents in an effort to better reduce the COVID-19 threat.

There are 11 teams in the Hockey East men’s division and 10 in the women’s bracket.

The UMaine men will play two non-conference games apiece against New Hampshire, Merrimack and Massachusetts and one against UMass Lowell while the women will play two apiece against Connecticut, Providence, Holy Cross and New Hampshire.

Virtually all of the non-conference games are scheduled in the second half of the season.

First-year Hockey East Commissioner Steve Metcalf explained that these non-conference weekend series, which he called “flex weekends,” will be used as make-up dates for any conference games that are postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The second half of the season is the best time to catch [up on] things that have happened up until that point,” Metcalf said.

“We will bump the non-conference games [if needed] and replace them with conference games. Conference games come first,” he said.

UMaine men’s coach Red Gendron likes having a healthy schedule of non-conference games to go with the countable league contests.

“We want to play as many games as possible in a safe manner,” Gendron said.

“It’s going to be different not playing anyone outside of Hockey East but, at the same time, it won’t be different because we play those teams all the time. We’re happy to have a meaningful schedule and the opportunity to play,” he said.

The UMaine men’s home league series are against UMass (Nov. 20-21), New Hampshire (Dec. 11-12), UMass Lowell (Jan. 1-2), Providence (Jan. 15-16) and Boston College (March 5-6). Its road Hockey East series will be at UConn (Nov. 27-28), Merrimack (Dec. 4-5), Vermont (Jan. 8-9), Boston University (Jan. 22-23) and Northeastern (Feb. 12-13).

UMaine will play its non-conference game at UMass Lowell on Dec. 19 and its other non-league games will be Jan. 29-30 at UNH, Feb. 5-6 at home against Merrimack and Feb. 26-27 at UMass.

The Black Bear women will be home for HE series against UConn (Nov. 27-28), Boston University (Dec. 4-5), Vermont (Jan. 8-9), Merrimack (Jan. 22-23) and Northeastern (Feb. 26-27) and will visit Holy Cross (Nov. 20-21), New Hampshire (Dec. 11-12), Providence (Jan. 15-16) and Boston College (Feb. 19-20).

Non-conference games for the UMaine women include home sets against Providence (Dec. 19-20), New Hampshire (Jan. 29-30) and Holy Cross (Feb. 12-13) and a road series at UConn (Feb. 6-7).

Metcalf said Hockey East will follow new coronavirus-impacted NCAA guidelines for the minimum number of games needed to qualify for the league playoffs. Men’s teams must play at least 13 games and women’s teams have to play 10.

He said if all teams don’t play the same number of conference games, seedings will be decided by a points percentage system.

For example, a team that finishes with 18 points in 17 games would average 1.059 points per game and would be seeded higher than a team that earns 21 points in 20 games, which is 1.05 points per game.