It’s been a long wait with much consternation from some fans, but finally on Monday the Big Ten and the Minnesota Gophers announced the 2023-24 hockey schedule. Only the dates were announced as both game times and TV are still set to be assigned. But Gophers fan can now plan for the days that the Pride on Ice will try and win another Big Ten title.
Minnesota kicks off their season with an exhibition game at home against Bemidji State on Sunday October 8th after headed up to BSU a season ago. They kick off their 103rd season for real with their first series against the newest Minnesota Di school in St. Thomas. Minnesota will play the “host” Tommies at the Xcel Energy Center on Friday October 14th in a doubleheader with the school’s women’s teams playing at 4:30 and the men at 7:30. The two teams then head over to Minneapolis for the return game of the home and home and the official home opener for the Gophers on Saturday 10/15. Then the schedule steps up in intensity real quickly.
Minnesota will play four straight weeks in a row agains teams that arguably could be called rivals. Minnesota heads the weekend of October 21 and 2 to Grand Forks to take on North Dakota. The following weekend Minnesota opens up Big Ten play in an awkward Thursday/Friday series scheduled around football with the Wisconsin Badgers coming to town. The Gopher football team hosts Michigan State at the Bank on Saturday October 29th forcing the Thursday/Friday series. Just a heads up—it’s one of three awkward home series for the Gophers this season.
The following weekend Minnesota plays another home and home series against an in-state rival, this time the UMD Bulldogs. Friday’s game is in Minneapolis, with the teams making the drive up I-35 to Duluth for Saturday’s game. Minnesota heads out on the road for the first time in the Big Ten season the following week visiting their toughest conference rival of late, the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor.
Minnesota closes out November back at 3M Arena at Mariucci with a normal Friday/Saturday series against Notre Dame on November 17/18 before another awkward Friday/Sunday home series against Michigan State over Thanksgiving weekend. The games will be split around the Battle for the Axe which will take place that Saturday at Huntington Bank Stadium.
Minnesota closes out 2023 with back to back road series at Penn State and Ohio State.
The Gophers will open up 2024 with a pair of home non-conference series. The third and final awkward series will take place January 7th and 8th which is a Sunday and a Monday as former WCHA team Colorado College makes their first trip back to Minneapolis since the dissolution of the conference. The series is being played Sunday/Monday to that Minnesota will have all their players back from the World Juniors Tournament which ends the previous week. They will bounce right back on a short week as Robert Morris comes to the U the following Friday/Saturday. Robert Morris is in their first year back as a DI program after the team folded for several seasons.
The Gophers then play five straight weeks against Big Ten foes beginning with their third consecutive home series this time against Ohio State on January 19th and 20th. The Gophers then travel on back to back weekends to east Lansing and Madison to take on the Spartans and Badgers. Minnesota returns home to face Penn State on February 9th and 10th before heading to Notre Dame the following weekend. Minnesota gets their conference bye week in the second to last weekend of the season before closing out the regular season at home against Michigan on March 1st and 2nd.
You can bet Bob Motzko is not real pleased about the Gophers late bye week as if Minnesota wins the Big Ten regular season once again Minnesota will play up to a maximum of four games in 40 days between February 18th and the opening round of the NCAA regionals on March 28th or 29th. Not a lot of practice for the intensity of the NCAA Tournament.
The Big Ten Tournament will operate the same in 2024 as in previous seasons. The 31 seed gets the opening weekend bye while the other six teams play in a best-of-three at the higher seeded teams rink. The single game semifinals will be the following weekend with the single game championship game taking place March 16th at the highest remaining seed.
The NCAA regionals take place from March 28st to March 31st in Springfield, Mass, Providence, Sioux falls and Maryland Heights, Missouri. The Frozen Four is in St. Paul at the Xcel Energy Center April 11th and 13th.
The TV situation may be an interesting one this season for the Gophers. One reason I believe you are seeing a lot of the awkwardly scheduled games I due to Big Te Network being able to pick up the broadcasts. it has not been confirmed but there are significant rumors out that Bally’s Sports will not carry Gopher Hockey this season as they are dealing with their bankruptcy issues. Thus, the majority of Minnesota’s televised games will come via BTN, and maybe another source? This may be the season where Gophers fans may need to subscribe to BTN + to see a good chunk of their season if Bally’s or another network does not pick up the selection of games that they did previously. The TV schedule was announced in mid-October last season, so don’t expect answers anytime soon.