The Gopher Hockey team put out an update to its 2014-15 schedule on Tuesday where it announced that all but one of their Big Ten series will be played on the traditional Friday and Saturday dates. The lone Big Ten Series not to be played Friday/Saturday will be the home series against Michigan State which will occur as a Thursday/Friday night series on February 26th and 27th.
When the Big Ten Hockey Conference began last season, and the television schedules were affected by the Big Ten Network carrying more games, fans were warned that there may be some games on non-traditional dates. However, it appears that all the fan whining and carrying on was not warranted, as only limited changes have occurred. The Gophers played two-non-traditional Big Ten series last season, a Thursday/Friday series at Wisconsin and a Sunday/Monday series at Penn State. This season, when the initial schedule was announced in April, there were eight Big Ten series listed on the Gopher schedule as potentially a combination of Thursday through Sunday. However, it appears that the traditional dates will prevail with a few small exceptions.
In fact, other than TV, the main reason Gopher Hockey games are moved around is the football schedule. The Gophers also announced that the hockey series originally scheduled for Friday/Saturday November 7th and 8th at home against Notre Dame will now be played on Friday the 7th and Sunday the 9th. The reason? The Gopher Football team will play at home in the Battle for Floyd against Iowa on Saturday the 8th. Not wanting to wait until a week before the game to determine if the hockey game would need to be postponed as they did with the UMD series last season, they preemptively moved hockey to what will most likely be a mid-afternoon Sunday face-off. This hopefully will mean that the Gophers will push hard for a 2:30 kickoff against the Hawkeyes on Saturday.
The Gophers will also open the season with a Friday/Sunday series in the IceBreaker Classic tournament at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have a football game on Saturday October 11th, so the Gophers will play UMD on Friday the 10th, and then won't play either Notre Dame or RPI until Sunday the 12th.
Of course, while the dates are set, the one thing that TV could easily change like last season are the game times. While the BTN has said they will be doing their Friday night doubleheaders again, which will mean all home Friday night games will be 8:00PM face-offs, there may be some irregular start times with some of the other games. Remember the Gopher/Badger series at Mariucci Arena last season had a 4:00 PM Friday and 5:00 PM Saturday face-off...all for TV. Those game times will be announced as we get closer to the season and the networks figure out which games they will be broadcasting. Expect to see a good mix of Gopher games across various platforms again including the BTN, FSN North, probably at least one of the various ESPN Family of Networks, and possibly NBC Sports Network for either one of the games in Boston against BC or Northeastern, or at one of the NCHC teams in UMD or St. Cloud State.
So if you have Gopher Hockey season tickets like myself, rest easy. You will be mostly going to games on traditional dates. One Thursday and one Sunday will not kill you, or ruin the season. Sit back, relax and enjoy the run to Boston.