In this October 2019 photo, Cam Spicer of the University of Maine men's hockey team (top) looks to move the puck during a game against Alaska Anchorage. The Black Bears are trying to take advantage of increased practice time as they prepare for the pandemic-delayed season. Credit: Courtesy of Mark Tutuny

The University of Maine men’s hockey team will play back-to-back 7 p.m. games on Friday and Saturday against the University of New Hampshire in its season-opening series at the Whittemore Center in Durham, New Hampshire.

The men’s teams were originally scheduled to play at Alfond Arena in Orono, but indoor group gathering limits established by the state to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic forced UMaine to move the games to Durham.

The UMaine women’s team, which already was scheduled to play two games at UNH, is slated for 1 p.m. contests on Friday and Saturday, also at the Whittemore Center.

Hockey East associate commissioner Brian Smith said the four games will all be considered conference contests for purposes of the league standings.

The UMaine and UNH men will be playing their first games of the season. The Black Bears women have a 1-1 record, while the Wildcats are 1-3.

The Hockey East schedules were designed so the men’s teams would be playing at one venue while the women played at the opposite venue to limit the number of teams at one facility.

Smith said even though this is the type of situation the conference hoped to avoid, spacing out the games gives cleaning crews time to properly sanitize the facility and enables the women’s teams to vacate the premises before the men’s squads arrive.