Today marks the official start of the college hockey season.
Teams can have full-length practices with their coaches and even schedule games.
There are two nonconference match-ups: Ferris State at Colgate (the Gophers women's team vs. Colagte is the early game at the Starr Rink in Hamilton, N.Y, 2 p.m.) and Clarkson at Niagara.
The other 18 college teams in action play teams from across the border, Canadian teams. So it's a U.S. vs. Canada day of exhibitions across the land.
The Big East and WCHA have four of their teams playing, the NCHA three, and the Big Ten, Atlantic and ECAC two apiece.
NCAA teams should win almost all these match-ups because the best Canadian hockey players are not at colleges. They have turned pro or are playing major juniors or are at American schools on scholarship. Figure U.S. teams should go 14-4, 15-3 something like that.
Alaska Anchorage, a WCHA holdover, got the jump on everyone Friday, beating British Columbia 2-1 in Anchorage on power play goals by junior D Austin Coldwell in the first and freshman F Dylan Hubbs in the 2. Freshman Michael Matyas was in the nets for first-year coach Matt Thomas.
What's interesting is some of the names of the Canadian schools: Wilfrid Laurier plays at Bowling Green, bet Wilfrid's players wear ties and carry their books ... Laurentian is at Michigan Tech. The Laurentian Divide determines which way water flows in northern Midwestern states; these guys must be geography majors eh? ...McGill is at UMass-Lowell, the No. 1 team in preseason NCAA polls. Sounds like the name of a school for lawyers.
The Gophers, of course, play the Lethbridge Pronghorns at 7 p.m. Used to know what a Pronghorn was, but I forgot.
We'll check the results of all these games closes but they will mean very little. This is a time for teams to experiment, to hit somebody beside a teammate and to get the competive juices flowing a bit.
Nobody will remember what happened in any of these games for long.
* Penn State, which is going from an independent to a member of the Big Ten, had a midnight practice and a public skate to get fans out. Think the Nittany Lions are excited to get going?
* St. Cloud State, coming off a Frozen Four, will have two practices Saturday. ... Did you know Huskies' freshman had 64 goals last season -- thanks Mick Hatten, Huskies beat writer for St. Cloud Times -- or almost half of SCSU's total last year? ... If those sophomores get just a little better, watch out for the Huskies.
* The Wisconsin Badgers have a scrimmage in Eau Claire today, with any money made going to the Blugolds hockey team which just happens to be the defending Division III champion.
* The Unites States of Hockey blog listed 25 players to watch in college hockey this season. To find the list, go here. Only one Gopher made the list, Kyle Rau, junior forward, at No. 8. ... Wisconsin had four players on it: sophomore forward Nic Kerdiles at No. 5, junior defenseman Jake McCabe at No. 13, and senior forwards Mike Mersch and Mark Zengerle at Nos. 19 and 21. ... No doubt the Badgers have some talent. Mersch carried UW the first half of the season and he is only at No. 19?