Somewhere up in heaven, Bob Johnson is smiling.
The late coach of the Wisconsin Badgers, Calgary Flames and Pittsburgh Penguins coined the phrase, “It’s a great day for hockey.” It was a wonderful day for college hockey on Wednesday.
That was the day that the NBC Sports Group announced that it will televise 16 college hockey games on Versus/NBC Sports Network. Eleven of those games will be televised on Friday nights, starting Jan. 6, with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hosting ECAC Hockey rival Harvard at 7:30 p.m. from Houston Field House on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN).
The first broadcast will be Dec. 31, when Versus televises Boston University at future Hockey East opponent Notre Dame. On Jan. 2, Versus will change its name to NBC Sports Network.
Speculation about college hockey games being carried by Versus/NBCSN began shortly after the midsummer announcement of the National College Hockey Conference that will begin play in 2013-14. And NBC Sports Group, which earlier this year signed a new 10-year broadcast agreement with the NHL, was looking to add more hockey programming. One way the group did that was signing a multiyear deal last month to televise Notre Dame home games when the Fighting Irish leave the CCHA for Hockey East in 2013-14. It was only a matter of time before the deal to show regular-season games from other teams and conferences would be finalized.
“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,” Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports Group, said in a statement.
Now, it must be said the other sports networks — Big Ten Network, CBS Sports Network, ESPNU and Fox College Sports — have televised games nationally. But if you are a cable subscriber, especially in the Capital Region with Time Warner Cable, those channels are not on basic. While ESPNU is on the digital tier, BTN, CBSN and FCS are on the Sports Pass, which costs extra.
Versus/NBCSN is on standard cable, and that means more homes will see these games. I fully expect the increased exposure is going to help the game grow.
RPI will be on a second time when it hosts Cornell on Feb. 3. ECACH has two other games — Yale at Harvard Jan. 27, and Dartmouth at Yale Feb. 17. Sorry, Union fans, no games for the Dutchmen.
Here is the broadcast schedule:
Dec. 31 — Boston University at Notre Dame, 7 p.m.
Jan. 6 — Dartmouth at RPI, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 13 — Minnesota Duluth at Nebraska-Omaha, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 20 — Michigan at Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 27 — Yale at Harvard, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 3 — Cornell at RPI, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 10 — Boston College at Vermont, 7:30 p.m.; Minnesota at Denver, 10 p.m.
Feb. 17 — Dartmouth at Yale, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 24 — Boston University at Vermont, 7:30 p.m.; North Dakota at Denver, 10 p.m.
March 2 — Denver at Nebraska-Omaha, 7:30 p.m.
Hockey East Tournament
March 9 — Quarterfinal Game 1, 7:30 p.m.
March 16 — Semifinals, 5 and 8 p.m.
March 17 — Finals, 8 p.m.
Here are the college football games and NFL games that will be televised over the next several days.
The game schedule will also include Internet broadcasts on ESPN3.com. Most ESPN and ESPN2 games will be on ESPN3.com.
Announcers, in order of play-by-play, analyst and sideline reporters, are in parentheses. Announcing pairings and game broadcasts are subject to change.
CBS6 and CBS6 HD — N.Y. Jets at Buffalo, 1 p.m. (Jim Nantz/Phil Simms).
FOX23 and FOX23 HD — San Francisco at Washington, 1 p.m. (Kenny Albert/Daryl Johnston/Tony Siragusa); N.Y. Giants at New England, 4:15 p.m. (Joe Buck/Troy Aikman/Pam Oliver).
NBC13 and NBC13 HD — Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 8:20 p.m. (Al Michaels/Cris Collinsworth/Michele Tafoya).
ESPN and ESPN HD — Chicago at Philadelphia, 8:30 p.m. (Mike Tirico/Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski).
NFL Network and NFL HD — Oakland at San Diego, 8:20 p.m. (Brad Nessler/Mike Mayock/Alex Flanagan).
ESPNU and ESPNU HD — Syracuse at Connecticut, noon (Pam Ward/Dan Hawkins); Mississippi at Kentucky, 3:30 p.m. (Clay Matvick/Brian Griese/Allison Williams); Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. (Rob Stone/Danny Kanell); Louisiana Tech at Fresno State, 10:30 p.m. (Adam Amin/David Diaz-Infante).
Time Warner Cable Sports-3 and TWCS-3 HD — Louisville at West Virginia, noon (Mike Gleason/John Congemi/Eamon McAnaney).
ESPN and ESPN HD — Michigan at Iowa, noon (Dave Pasch/Chris Spielman and Urban Meyer/Quint Kessenich); South Carolina at Arkansas, 7:15 p.m. (Brad Nessler/Todd Blackledge/Holly Rowe).
FX and FX HD — Texas Tech at Texas, noon (Gus Johnson/Charles Davis/Tim Brewster).
MSG and MSG HD — Vanderbilt at Florida, noon (Dave Neal/Andre Ware/Cara Capuano); Oregon at Washington, 10:30 p.m. (Craig Bolerjack/Joel Klatt/PetrosPapadakis).
YES and YES HD — Brown at Yale, noon (Chris Shearn/Ross Tucker and Jack Ford).
Big Ten Network and BTN HD — Indiana at Ohio State, noon (Tom Hart/Derek Rackley/Lisa Byington); Northwestern at Nebraska, 3:30 p.m. (Eric Collins/Chris Martin/Dionne Miller).
MY4 and MY4 HD — North Carolina at North Carolina State, 12:30 p.m. (Steve Martin/Dave Archer/Scott Pryzwansky).
ESPN3.com — Ball State at Eastern Michigan, noon (announcers TBA); New Mexico State at Georgia, 12:30 p.m. (announcers TBA); Virginia at Maryland, 12:30 p.m. (announcers TBA); Duke at Miami, 3 p.m. (announcers TBA); Stanford at Oregon State, 3:30 p.m. (Carter Blackburn/Brock Huard); UL-Monroe at UL-Lafayette, 3:30 p.m. (announcers TBA); Idaho at San Jose State, 4 p.m. (announcers TBA); South Florida at Rutgers, 7 p.m. (announcers TBA); Middle Tennessee at Tennessee, 7 p.m. (announcers TBA); Tennessee-Martin at Mississippi State, 7:30 p.m. (announcers TBA); Utah State at Hawaii, midnight (announcers TBA).
CBS6 and CBS6 HD — Army at Air Force, 3:30 p.m. (Spero Dedes/Steve Beuerlein/Lewis Johnson); LSU at Alabama, 8 p.m. (Verne Lundquist/Gary Danielson/Tracy Wolfson).
ABC10 and ABC10 HD — Texas A&M at Oklahoma, 3:30 p.m. (Sean McDonough/Matt Millen/Heather Cox); Kansas State at Oklahoma State, 8 p.m. (Brent Musburger/Kirk Herbstreit/Lisa Salters).
ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD — Purdue at Wisconsin, 3:30 p.m. (Mike Patrick/Craig James); Notre Dame at Wake Forest, 8 p.m. (Mark Jones/Ed Cunningham).
CBSN and CBSN HD — Troy at Navy, 3:30 p.m. (Josh Lewin/Randy Cross/Kaylee Hartung); Houston at Alabama-Birmingham, 7 p.m. (Dave Ryan/Rich Rodriguez); Boise State at UNLV, 10:30 p.m. (James Bates/Aaron Taylor/Brooke Collins).
Versus and Versus HD — Arizona State at UCLA, 7:30 p.m. (Ted Robinson/Glenn Parker/Akbar Gbaja-Biamila).
ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD — Northern Illinois at Bowling Green, 8 p.m. (announcers TBA).
ESPN and ESPN HD — Miami (Ohio) at Temple, 8 p.m. (Mark Neely/Ray Bentley).
ESPNU and ESPNU HD — Ohio at Central Michigan, 7:30 p.m. (Anish Shroff/Jay Walker).
ESPN and ESPN HD — Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech, 8 p.m. (Rece Davis/Craig James and Jesse Palmer/Jenn Brown).
CBSN and CBSN HD — Houston at Tulane, 8 p.m. (Todd Harris/Doug Chapman).
ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD — South Florida at Syracuse, 8 p.m. (Joe Tessitore/Rod Gilmore).