The long-awaited and delayed preseason USCHO.com poll was released on Monday and the Minnesota Golden Gophers were ranked #14 in the nation. Minnesota is the fourth highest ranked team of the five Big Ten teams in the Top 20.
Five of the Gophers seven opponents are ranked in the Top 20 of the preseason poll. Penn State is ranked #9, Ohio State #10, Michigan #12, and Notre Dame rounds out the Big Ten teams at #20. The Arizona State Sun Devils who will be the Big Ten’s only non-conference foe this season are ranked #15.
With the release of the preseason poll, we now await the final release of the Big Ten schedule and TV designations. We know the Big Ten is set to begin play on November 13th, and it was confirmed Monday in a tweet from the Wisconsin Badgers radio announcer Brian Posick that the Gophers will be one of at least four teams to hit the ice on opening night along with the Badgers, Michigan and Notre Dame.
Confirmed by @TonyGranato The @BadgerMHockey season will start the season on November 13th. Michigan, Minnesota and Norte Dame will start that day too. Matchups and sites could be announced this week.— Brian Posick (@brian_posick) October 26, 2020
It is expected that the schedule will look a bit different this season to both try and cut down on travel for teams and to maximize the potential available tv windows. It has been rumored that the Big Ten will be looking at weird gamedays and starting times to achieve this goal. One would expect that Minnesota will still have plenty of games picked up by BTN and the primary broadcast source, with Fox Sports North as the secondary source, especially for home games. However with the recent news that the Sinclair owned regional sports networks that include FSN have now been removed from virtually any streaming media source (Hulu, You Tube TV, Fubo, etc) it might not be easy to catch any potential Gopher games on FSN this season for many fans.
As for where games are played, the Gophers confirmed that they will play all of their home games at 3M at Mariucci Arena this season as usual. This comes after Wisconsin confirmed earlier this week that they would play all their home games as long as no fans are in attendance at smaller La Bahn arena, the usual home of the Badger women’s team to both improve potential atmosphere, and most importantly save money not having to flip the Kohl Center from basketball to hockey repeatedly during the season.
Speaking of the women, there has still not been any announcement of how the Women’s WCHA will handle play this season. Hopefully an announcement on that will also come soon.
As soon as a full schedule is released we will bring it to you, but it appears we are just 18 days out from the return of Gopher Hockey.