Appointment TV: Must-watch college hockey games in 2017-18

(Courtesy UMD Bulldogs, St. Cloud State Huskies and Minnesota Gophers via Twitter.)

College hockey returns to FOX Sports North this weekend.

We’re televising 37 games this season (and streaming them on FOX Sports GO!), a schedule that features major some of the biggest rivalries in the game.

From Gophers sensation Casey Mittelstadt’s first meeting with Wisconsin, to a showdown between reigning national champion Denver and St. Cloud State and more, check out our favorite matchups.

 

Oct. 13, 15: Minnesota vs. Penn State

FOX Sports North viewers get their first look at Mittelstadt and the Gophers, who take on a Nittany Lions squad that has made some major strides over the last few years. Sophomore scorer Denis Smirnov returns after leading Penn State to their first (ever!) NCAA tournament berth last season, while Peyton Jones is back to hold down the fort in goal.

 

More Gophers coverage

Oct 21: St. Cloud State vs. Boston College

BC is built from the net out this season after losing all five of its top scorers from a season ago. Their only Midwest road trip of the season comes to St. Cloud, where their weakness up front could prove fatal against a Huskies squad that returns more-or-less unchanged. The Huskies’ top 12 scorers from last season are back.

 

Nov. 3-4: Minnesota Duluth at St. Cloud State

The Bulldogs came within a few goals of a national championship last season, but after losing much of their scorers to graduation and the pros they’ve got some questions to answer early. They edged one of the best teams in the country to start the season, topping the Gophers 4-3 in overtime. On the other side, the Huskies kept much of last year’s team intact, and have plenty of depth across the board to help hold off UMD.

 

Dec. 1-2: Minnesota vs. Wisconsin

These Big Ten contenders split a four-game season series last year, and with new blood at both ends of the ice they could very easily do it again. The Badgers lost leading scorer Luke Kunin to the NHL, but added a contender for Big Ten Goaltender of the Year in graduate transfer Kyle Hayton. He posted a .929 save percentage in his final season at St. Lawrence.

 

Dec. 8-9: North Dakota at St. Cloud State

The Fighting Hawks got younger and lost a pair of first-round draft picks to the NHL, but a deep forward group and a goaltender with a championship on his resume should make this a fun series. Leading scorer Shane Gersich gets some help in the former of second-round pick Grant Mismash, but this group could falter if the kids don’t learn quickly

 

Jan. 27: Minnesota vs. Notre Dame

Can the Fighting Irish win the conference in their first year as a Big Ten team? A matchup in January with a fellow contender could go a long way towards settling that question. Star goalie Cal Petersen is gone, but captain Jordan Gross leads the defensive corps, backing up a group of forwards that includes 20-goal scorer Andrew Oglevie.

 

Feb. 10: Minnesota at Wisconsin

This one could decide the Big Ten. The Gophers and the Badgers meet with just two weeks to go in the regular season, and both are expected to be near the top of the standings when it happens.

 

Feb. 24: St. Cloud State vs. Denver

The reigning national champions come to St. Cloud in late February for what should be a slugfest. Pioneers stars Henrik Borgstrom, Troy Terry and Dylan Gambrell are back to terrorize opposing goalies, while last year’s Mike Richter Award winner, senior goalie Tanner Jaillet, returns in goal.