Home-and-home series against defending national champion Minnesota Duluth and in-state rival Minnesota State Mankato and a trip to Las Vegas to face North Dakota highlight the Gophers’ men’s hockey schedule announced Thursday.

The 2018-19 season will be the first for the Gophers under new coach Bob Motzko, the former St. Cloud State coach who was hired after Don Lucia stepped down in March. "We have a sneaky chance to be pretty good next year,'' Motzko said Wednesday during the Gopher Road Trip.

The Big Ten announced its 24-game conference schedule on Tuesday, with the Gophers opening the league schedule Nov. 9-10 at Wisconsin and concluding it Feb. 22-23 at home against Notre Dame.

Minnesota’s nonconference slate will begin Oct. 6 with the home-and-home against Minnesota Duluth. The Gophers visit the Bulldogs on Oct. 6, and UMD travels to 3M Arena at Mariucci the following day.

After a pair of exhibition games – Oct. 13 against the U.S. National Under-18 Team at Plymouth, Mich., and Oct. 20 at home against Trinity Western – the Gophers travel to Las Vegas to face North Dakota in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game at Orleans Arena.

In the final series before starting Big Ten play, the Gophers have a home-and-home set with MSU Mankato, with the Mavericks visiting Mariucci on Nov. 2 and Minnesota traveling to Mankato the next day.

The Gophers also have three other nonconference home series: against St. Lawrence on Nov. 16-17, against Ferris State on Dec. 28-29 and against Arizona State on March 1-2 to close the regular season.

Game times and broadcast information will be announced later.

The Gophers’ 2018-19 schedule

Oct. 6: at Minnesota Duluth

Oct. 7: vs. Minnesota Duluth

Oct. 13: at U.S. National Under-18 Team, Plymouth, Mich. (exhibition)

Oct. 20: vs. Trinity Western (exhibition)

Oct. 27: vs. North Dakota at Las Vegas in U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game

Nov. 2: vs. Minnesota State Mankato

Nov. 3: at Minnesota State Mankato

Nov. 9-10: at Wisconsin

Nov. 16-17: vs. St. Lawrence

Nov. 23-24: vs. Michigan State

Nov. 30-Dec. 1: vs. Ohio State

Dec. 7-8: at Michigan

Dec. 28-29: vs. Ferris State

Jan. 4-5: vs. Penn State

Jan. 11-12: at Notre Dame

Jan. 18-19: at Michigan State

Jan. 25-26: vs. Wisconsin

Feb. 1-2: vs. Michigan

Feb. 8-9: at Penn State

Feb. 15-16: at Ohio State

Feb. 22-23: vs. Notre Dame

March 1-2: vs. Arizona State

March 8-10: Best-of-three Big Ten quarterfinals, on campus sites

March 16: Big Ten semifinals, on campus sites

March 23: Big Ten championship, on campus site

March 29-31: NCAA regional weekend

April 11-13: NCAA Frozen Four at Buffalo, N.Y.