By Zachary Baru
UMass Hockey has made it to the national stage, not just by gaining another appearance in the NCAA Hockey Tournament, but by gaining airtime today nationally on ESPN2.
Today's game against Harvard will be one of many games this season for UMass Hockey on television, but it will be by far their largest audience, even with a tough time slot. One game earlier this season was broadcast on Fox College Sports, as was another on TSN 2 in Canada. Regionally, many games have been aired live on NESN and NBC Sports Boston.
Today's ESPN2 appearance is a unique opportunity to give the entire country exposure to the UMass Hockey program, which is having a successful and historic season. The 2018-19 season marked the first time in program history that UMass Hockey reached a #1 national ranking, and finished the season ranked #4 nationally in the USCHO.com poll. The Minutemen will look to ride their momentum on a successful season to show a nationwide audience the level the program has reached, as most of the country has not had much exposure to the UMass Hockey team.
With the exception of ESPN+, a streaming subscription service, hockey in general is rare on ESPN. The NCAA Hockey Tournament, however, has given ESPN exclusive rights in the U.S. to broadcast every game. ESPN2 will be airing most of the tournament, including the championship game, with some games on ESPNU and two games on ESPN's free streaming service, ESPN3.
UMass will face Harvard today at 3 p.m. in the first round at the 9,852-seat SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire. SNHU Arena is home to the Manchester Monarchs of the ECHL.
For UMass, this will be a rare chance to show the entire country how much their program has grown, going from an non-ranked team last season to a #1 ranking in the nation this year. After a year in which the men's basketball team received little national television exposure, tonight will be an opportunity for the UMass brand to be seen in front of a massive nationwide audience.
Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at email@example.com.