The Gopher Hockey team officially announced their non-conference schedule on Thursday. While a majority of the games were known and we discussed them after the Big Ten Schedule was released, we can now see the full schedule in a big picture.
The Gophers will open the season in Alaska with games against Alaska-Anchorage and Alaska-Fairbanks on October 7th and 9th. Minnesota open the home season on Friday October 14th with an exhibition game against the US-Under 18 Team. The following weekend Minnesota opens the season at home for real with a home game Friday night against St. Cloud State before making the return trip up I-94 on Saturday. The Gophers make a trip to upstate New York to close out October with road games against Clarkson and St. Lawrence.
Minnesota begins November with the series everyone has been looking for---the return of the North Dakota Fighting Hawks to Mariucci. After a week off. Minnesota will play a home and home series against Minnesota State-Mankato and then over Thanksgiving weekend will finish their nonconference road slate with a weekend in Boston and games against Boston College and Northeastern. The Gophers plan two Big Ten series in December before the holiday break--Ohio State at Mariucci and a trip to East Lansing to face the Spartans. Minnesota next hosts the annual Mariucci Classic, and it will be a rather lackluster field this year with Minnesota playing Mercyhurst on Friday night before playing either Alabama-Huntsville or UMass on Saturday.
Minnesota opens 2017 by hosting Michigan and traveling to Madison for a series against the Badgers before the annual North Star Cup at the X. Minnesota plays UMD on Friday before facing either Bemidji State or St. Cloud State on Saturday. Minnesota then closes out the regular season with six straight weekends of Big Ten play, facing Penn State four times and all other teams twice in that stretch.
The most notable thing about the Gophers schedule is that except for one Sunday game in Alaska, the remainder of the games will be played on the traditional Friday/Saturday. Minnesota sent out a survey to season ticket holders, and this must have been a strong issue for them, and it appears the Gophers have delivered. However this will make two weekends a bit interesting. For the last few seasons, the Gophers have tried not to have a game on an evening after a home football game. This season it appears there will be two Saturday night hockey games following home football games. On November 5th the Gopher football team hosts Purdue, while the Hockey team looks to finish its series against North Dakota that evening. Its very likely that the football game will be an 11 am kickoff, which should leave plenty of time for football fans to depart and hockey fans to arrive for a likely 8:00 faceoff.
Where this "policy change" might get dicey is two weeks later on the 19th. The football team hosts Northwestern while the hockey team finishes off a home and home series against Minnesota State-Mankato. Now why the Gophers didn't just host Mankato Friday night and make the trip down 169 on Saturday I have no idea, but it does now open the door for a potential conflict. There may be a distinct possibility that Minnesota vs Northwestern may be high profile enough to achieve a 2:30 kick off time that Saturday. That will make it insanely tight to get the lots cleared out and the hockey fans in even with an 8:00 PM faceoff. I would not be surprised to see the hockey game moved to Sunday if football does get a 2:30 kickoff, but with the TV windows near the end of the season being a 7 day choice for the networks rather than a two week choice, the Gophers may not know until six days before the game.
While all the game dates are known, game times and TV have not yet been set, and will most likely be announced in late August.
The entire Gopher hockey schedule is below: