Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.

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Breaking down Gophers' 2011-12 hockey schedule

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under College hockey, WCHA news Updated: April 29, 2011 - 6:35 PM

The one major up-in-the-air element of the Gophers' schedule is where the Hall of Fame game against Notre Dame will be played on Jan. 7.

It is still listed as TBA. Why? Well, it could be outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium if the finances make sense. Gophers AD Joel Maturi said a while ago that he had until the end of the school year to make a decision.

Graduation ceremonies are in mid-May, so there are two weeks left to ponder that.

As for the rest of the schedule -- 37 games, 20 at home -- here is how it breaks down (game times were not released):

OCTOBER

Oct. 2: British Columbia ... This is a Sunday exhibition game, which will probably be played in the afternoon. The UBC Thunderbirds of Vancouver recently decided not to apply for NCAA membership. This will be the fourth consecutive year they have played at Minneaota. Last year the Gophers won 6-0.

Oct. 7-8: Sacred Heart ...  The Pioneers of Fairfield, Conn., were 11th in Atlantic Hockey, finishing with a 6-25-6 record overall

Oct. 14-15: at UMD ... the defending NCAA champions, but Bulldogs won't look the same. Justin Fontaine was a senior, junior Mike Connolly signed a pro contract. Those two were two-thirds of the top scoring line in college hockey. UMD's top D-man, freshman Justin Faulk, also turned pro

Oct. 21 and 22/23: Vermont ... The Catamounts (8-20-8) finished seventh in Hockey East. ... This will probably be a Fri.-Sun. series because of a conflict with Gophers football on Saturday.

Oct. 28-29: at Alaska-Anchorage ... the Seawolves beat Gophers in first round of WCHA playoffs, revenge time

First month comments: Four nonconference games against rebuilding teams. Four WCHA road games, including a tough road trip to UAA, but Gophers get the chance to schedule two extra games because of it. (Games in Alaska don't count toward the NCAA maximum.)

NOVEMBER

Nov. 4-5: North Dakota ... Sioux didn't come to Mariucci this past season. ... Sioux's last visit to Mariucci Arena was in Jan. 2010. ... North Dakota is one of three WCHA teams the Gophers play in two series this seasons, the others are St. Cloud State and Wisconsin.

Nov. 11-12: at Wisconsin ... three of the U's first four WCHA series on road. The Badgers are the Gophers' scheduling partner every season; meaning the two play four regular-season games every season.

Nov. 18: at St. Cloud State

Nov. 19: St. Cloud State ... this is a home and home series. Last season the teams met only once, so both games were at Mariucci

Nov. 25-26: at Michigan State ... a nonconference series, taking the place of the College Hockey Showcase. The Gophers will be playing the Spartans home and away every season strarting in 2013-14 when the Big Ten Conference starts play. ... MSU was 10th in CCHA last season, finished 15-19-4, Spartans also have new coach.

Second month comments: Three games at home, four on road. Six WCHA games. Any time North Dakota comes to Mariucci it's special, especially since their WCHA rivalry is coming to an end. Wisconsin faded badly last season, St. Cloud State underachieved. Looks like a manageable month.

DECEMBER

Dec. 2-3: Minnesota State Mankato ... Gophers lost two one-goal at Mankato last season

Dec. 9-10: Michigan Tech ... Huskies will have new coach, top scorers this past season were freshmen. Michigan Tech has to improve on 4-30-4 record

Dec. 30-31: Mariucci Classic with Niagara, Northeastern, Princeton ... three eastern teams who finished in middle of pack in their conferences last season (Niagara was fourth in Atlantic Hockey, 18-13-4 overall; Northeastern was sixth in Hockey East, 14-16-8, and Princeton was fifth in ECAC, 17-13-2 ... Classic will go back to traditional format, first-day winners will meet for title second day

Third month comments: Six home games against average team, should be a good month for U

 JANUARY

Jan. 7: Notre Dame ... U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame game, this is the game which may be played outdoors; the Irish reached the Frozen Four before losing to UMD in the semifinals

Jan. 13-14: at North Dakota ... always fun to go to Grand Forks and play before a full house at the Ralph

Jan. 20-21: Colorado College ... hope Jaden Schwartz is still on team, he had a great freshmen year shortened by a broken ankle. Tigers could be among better WCHA teams

Jan. 27: St. Cloud State

Jan. 28: at St. Cloud State

Fourth month comments: Seven games, four at home. Gophers start the month with two Frozen Four teams, then play a Colorado College team which they embarrassed at Colorado Springs last season. Challenging month.

FEBRUARY

Feb. 3-4: open weekend

Feb. 10-11: at Denver ... Jason Zucker, a Wild draft pick, was one of top offensive threats as a freshman this past season. DU could be the preseason WCHA favorite with Zucker the Shore brother, Nick and Drew, and goalie Sam Brittain.

Feb. 17-18: Bemidji State ... Gophers played two close games at Bemidji to end regular season this past season -- one game ended in a tie, the Gophers won the other game in overtime

Feb. 24-25: at Nebraska Omaha ... Mavericks rolled over Gophers at Mariucci early last season

Fifth month comments: Only six games. Two tough road trips. And high energy BSU plays almost every team close.

MARCH

March 2-3: Wisconsin ... wonder what this series will mean?

Final comments: Last season the Gophers played 34 regular-season games; this season they play 37. They are able to play three more because of their trip to Alaska and the Hall of Fame game, which also does not count toward the 34 maximum the NCAA allows.

FOOTBALL FACTOR

One reason the Gophers hockey team plays a lot of away game early in the season is to avoid conflicts with the Gophers football team.

Both teams can not play home games on Saturday because of the traffic and parking problems that would cause.

So here is how the football and hockey schedules match up (teams in all caps are playing at TCF Bank Stadium):

Football sked                            Where hockey team is         

 

Oct. 8 -- at Purdue....................Sacred Heart at home

Oct. 15 -- bye ..........................  at UMD      

Oct. 22 -- NEBRASKA   .......... Vermont at home on Fri. and Sat. or Sun., probably will be Sun.

Oct. 29 -- IOWA ......................  at Alaska Anchorage

Nov. 5 -- at Michigan St. ........ North Dakota at home

Nov. 12 -- WISCONSIN ......... at Wisconsin

Nov. 19 -- at Northwestern ... St. Cloud State at home Sat.; home and home series

Nov. 26 -- ILLINOIS ................ at Michigan State

 

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