After months of waiting for the Big Ten to finally get around to announcing the 2021-22 conference hockey schedule, it was finally announced Monday morning. The Minnesota Gophers now know their path through the 24 conference games to try and bring home a regular season Big Ten title. Below are some of the highlights in bullet form, with the full schedule below:
- The Gophers will open conference play October 29th and 30 at 3M at Mariucci Arena when the Notre Dame Irish come to town. Minnesota will be looking for revenge after the Irish swept the Gophers in Minneapolis last season
- The Gophers head out on the road for the first time in conference play the following weekend with one of the most highly anticipated series of the year—-in Madison against the Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin loses Hobey Baker winner Cole Caufield and forward Dylan Holloway from last year’s team, but still returns a core group that is expected to challenge for the top of the conference along with Minnesota and...
- The Michigan Wolverines, who will enter the season as one of the most highly touted teams in come time after having five First Round NHL draft picks this summer including four of the top five picks, and it appears almost all if not all of them will be either returning to Michigan for their sophomore seasons or playing their first year for the maize and blue. The Gophers will get their first shot at the Wolverines in the final series of 2021 December 3rd and 4th in Ann Arbor with Michigan making the return trip to Minneapolis on January 21st and 22nd.
- The Gophers will play at least one game at home in seven of the first eight weekends on the season. Minnesota opens with non-conference series against Alaska and Mercyhurst before home and home series against St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth. Then in Big Ten play the Gophers host the Irish, head to Madison for their first full road trip on the season, and then return home to host both Ohio State and Penn State on back to back weekends in November. The Gophers will then close out 2021 with a pair of brutally tough weekends on the road at North Dakota and Michigan.
- The Gophers will end the season with three tough series that may determine the regular season champion. Minnesota ends with series at Ohio State and Penn State on back to back weekends before hosting the Badgers to end the season the final weekend in February.
- The Big Ten Tournament is back to it’s format prior to the 2020 season—it will be played over three weekends with the first weekend being a best-of-three quarterfinal matching up 2-7/3-6/and 4-5 at the highest seed arena. The regular season champion will get a bye into one of the single game semifinals the following weekend along with the three other teams that advance, and the winners of those games will play a single championship game at the highest remaining team the following weekend for the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
- The good news for hockey purists—-all of Minnesota’s and all but one series of the entire Big Ten schedule are back to the natural Friday/Saturday schedule. No game times or TV have been announced yet, but those should be coming in short time. Minnesota should see the vast majority of their conference and home non-conference games on TV in the Twin Cities with the exception being the series at Notre Dame which will most likely stream on Peacock. The road non-conference games may be a much different story however as the NCHC and home teams hold those TV rights—so unless a Bally Sports North or Fox 9+ can arrange a deal with the St. Cloud State, UMD, and North Dakota broadcasts, well those might be harder to find on local TV.
- Of course as we learned last year...all of these games are tentative and subject to change. But lets please hope that doesn’t need to happen.
The full Big Ten cumulative schedule is below: