The University of Minnesota and the WCHA announced the 2017-18 Women’s Hockey schedule on Thursday. The schedules all had to be reconfigured in the last few weeks to cover holes that occured after North Dakota announced they were dropping women’s hockey as a varsity sport and dropped out of the WCHA. Instead of 28 WCHA conference games, the teams will now play 24 conference games. All of the schools had to rush to find additional non-conference games to fill out their schedules.
This shows as Minnesota will play two road non-conference series this season, when generally only one was the norm. Minnesota will play at Mercyhurst in early November, and then will travel to Lindenwood for a series over Thanksgiving weekend. Minnesota will open their regular season with a home non-conference series against Merrimack and will host Vermont in mid-January. Additionally, Minnesota will play a single additional non-conference game against St. Cloud State that will not count in the WCHA standings on January 9.
The Gophers will play 24 WCHA conference games, four against each conference opponent. Minnesota starts the conference season at home hosting Ohio State at Ridder Arena. At the end of October, Minnesota will face their two toughest foes in the WCHA with a trip to Duluth to face UMD a weekend before Wisconsin comes to Minneapolis. The Gophers will face the Bulldogs again the last weekend before the weekend break at Ridder Arena and will end the regular season in Madison against Wisconsin.
The WCHA Playoffs will be similar to previous seasons with the first round being a best of three series at the higher seed. With just seven teams in the conference, the WCHA Regular Season Champion will get a first round bye directly to the WCHA Final Faceoff at Ridder Arena.
The 2017-18 season will be an interesting race for the WCHA as the top three teams will all be missing players who will be with their respective national teams preparing for the 2018 Olympics. Minnesota will miss their top two scorers from a year ago. NCAA scoring champion Kelly Pannek will be with the US National Team, while Sarah Potomak will be with the Canadian National Team. Sarah’s sister Amy Potomak who was the most highly anticipated freshman recruit for the Gophers will also miss the season as she joins Sarah on the Canadian National Team.
UMD will be missing the WCHA Goalie of the Year from last season Maddie Rooney who is with the US National Team, and Wisconsin will be without Annie Pankowski who is with the US National Team and Emily Clark who is with the Canadian National Team.
The Gophers will officially start the 2017-18 season Sepetmber 24th with an exhibition game at Ridder Arena with the Korean National Team. The full schedule is below.