MINNEAPOLIS — After a feast of roast turkey, green bean casserole and that cranberry sauce that retains the shape of the can it came in, many families follow up their Thanksgiving dinner with a spirited game of touch football in the backyard. The Minnesota Gophers will try something different this season, and will renew one of their more storied rivalries on Thanksgiving Day.
A meeting between border rivals Minnesota and North Dakota on the final Thursday in November is one of the highlights in the 2019-20 Gophers hockey schedule, which was revealed on Wednesday, June 5. The Gophers will play their non-conference series with Fighting Hawks on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 28 and 29, due to the Minnesota-Wisconsin football game which will be played across the street from the Gophers’ home rink on the Saturday of that weekend.
The series with North Dakota makes up two of the eight home games the Gophers will play in November, with Notre Dame (Nov. 1 and 2), Penn State (Nov. 15 and 16) and Wisconsin (Nov. 22 and 23) all coming to Minneapolis that month.
Other highlights include a non-conference series at Colorado College — a rival of the Gophers for decades in the previous makeup of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association — on Oct. 11 and 12, a non-conference home series with Niagara on Oct. 18 and 19, and a non-conference home-and-home series with two-time defending national champion Minnesota Duluth. The Bulldogs come to Minneapolis on Oct. 25 and the Gophers visit Duluth on Oct. 26.
After a Big Ten series at defending conference champion Ohio State on Dec. 6 and 7, the Gophers will have a full three weeks off before hosting Bemidji State in their opening game of the revamped Mariucci Classic holiday tournament, which will be played Dec. 28 and 29. It will be an all-Minnesota affair, with the Gophers facing either Minnesota State Mankato or St. Cloud State in their second game.
The conference schedule gets particularly challenging late in the season, with the Gophers playing six of eight games on the road, at Wisconsin, at Notre Dame and at Penn State, between Jan. 31 and Feb. 22. They close the regular season on Leap Day at home versus Michigan, with a two-game series on Feb. 28 and 29.
In addition to the 34 games that count toward their final record and their place in the Pairwise rankings that determine the final NCAA field of 16 teams, the Gophers will play a pair of exhibition games, hosting Canadian college Mount Royal on Oct. 6, and the USA Hockey National Under 18 team on Jan 17.
They Gophers last faced Colorado College in 2013, in the final season of the old WCHA. They are 3-0-0 all-time versus Niagara, and last faced the Purple Eagles in 2011. The games with North Dakota will be the 297th and 298th all-time in this rivalry, which dates back to the 1929-30 season.
2019-20 Gophers schedule
6 — vs. Mount Royal, exhibition
11-12 — at Colorado College
18-19 — vs. Niagara
25 — vs. Minnesota Duluth
26 — at Minnesota Duluth
1-2 — vs. Notre Dame
8-9 — at Michigan
15-16 — vs. Penn State
22-23 — vs. Wisconsin
28-29 — vs. North Dakota
6-7 — at Ohio State
28 — Mariucci Classic, vs. Bemidji State
29 — Mariucci Classic, vs. MSU-Mankato or St. Cloud State
10-11 — at Michigan State
17 — vs. USA Development Program Under-18, exhibition
24-25 — vs. Ohio State
31-1 — at Wisconsin
7-8 — vs. Michigan State
14-15 — at Notre Dame
21-22 — at Penn State
28-29 — vs. Michigan