Hockey in Vegas, it's all the rage.
One month after the NHL approved an expansion team for Las Vegas, the Gophers joined the trend, announcing Wednesday that plans to play a 2018 game near the Strip against North Dakota have been made official.
Minnesota-North Dakota will be the 2018 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game on Oct. 27, 2018 (a Saturday), at the Orleans Arena.
The former conference rivals are renewing their rivalry this season (Nov. 4-5, at Mariucci Arena), and now have plans to keep it going. In addition to the 2017-18 rivalry series in Grand Forks and the 2018 Vegas game, the Gophers also announced Wednesday that the programs have finalized a four-year series agreement beginning with the 2019-20 season.
"We are always interested in providing new and exciting experiences for our student-athletes and fans, and bringing one of college hockey's best rivalries to Las Vegas certainly fits the bill," Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement. "With these two programs facing off, you know you're going to get a great game, and the University of Minnesota is excited to participate in a memorable event at Orleans Arena."
The Grand Forks Herald reported last fall the game had been "verbally agreed to." Wednesday's announcement makes the travel plans official.
The university said some of the game's tickets will be made available "exclusively to Gopher fans," and that additional ticket information will be made available later.
The Orleans Arena, located just west of the Las Vegas Strip, is a multipurpose sports and entertainment complex. It hosts more than 200 events a year and seats about 7,500.
"This is both a great experience for our student-athletes and an opportunity to grow the game in a nontraditional college hockey market," Gophers coach Don Lucia said in the statement. "Taking our rivalry with North Dakota to Las Vegas will be great for both programs, our fans and college hockey, and we are certainly looking forward to it."
The NHL expansion team will play in a different arena near the Strip and start in the 2017-18 season.