FOX Sports North’s 2018-19 college hockey viewers guide

FOX Sports North recently announced our televised college hockey schedule for the 2018-19 season. We know you want to watch all of them, but just in case you can’t and have to pick and choose, here are some of our picks for the best games to check out. (note: rankings are from USCHO preseason poll)

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Oct. 7 — No. 13 Minnesota vs. No. 1 Minnesota Duluth (7 p.m., FOX Sports North)

Setting aside the obvious, this series is an absolutely juicy way to start the season. The reigning national champions, UMD made the tournament at the Gophers’ expense, snatching the last at-large spot thanks to a series of serendipitous outcomes during a wild weekend of conference postseason play.

But while they snuck in last time around, the Bulldogs are looking like a powerhouse as they begin their title defense. Picked to win the NCHC in the conference’s preseason poll, UMD’s strong d-corps returns intact — including wunderkind Scott Perunovich — as well as junior forward Riley Tufte and junior goalie Hunter Shepard.

The Gophers will counter with a skilled group of forwards lead by senior Tyler Sheehy and junior Rem Pitlick, but lost star forward Casey Mittelstadt and defenseman Ryan Lindgren to the NHL.

 

Oct. 12 — Wisconsin vs. No. 12 Boston College (7 p.m., FOX Sports North PLUS)

Wisconsin underwhelmed last season, missing the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight season and finishing sixth in the Big Ten. The Badgers could have a tough time gaining ground this year after losing leading scorer Ryan Wagner to graduation and Trent Frederic to the pros. They open the season with a two-game home series against BC, a perennial contender and the preseason favorite to win Hockey East. The Eagles make just two trips west this season — also visiting Notre Dame in December — so this could be your only chance to check out star freshman Oliver Wahlstrom, the No. 11 pick in this year’s NHL draft.

 

Nov. 2 — No. 13 Minnesota vs. No. 10 Minnesota State (7 p.m., FOX Sports North PLUS)

The Gophers’ days of running roughshod over their instate rivals are over. The Mavericks have split their last two series with Minnesota and made the NCAA tournament in four of head coach Mike Hastings’ six seasons at the helm. The Mavericks enter the season at No. 10 in the preseason rankings after flaming out in the first round of the NCAA tournament a year ago and losing leading scorers C.J. Suess and Zeb Knutson to graduation, as well as star defenseman Daniel Brickley.

 

Nov. 10 — No. 6 St. Cloud State vs. No. 9 Denver (6 p.m., FOX Sports North PLUS)

The sixth-ranked Huskies have something to prove after losing their head coach and a host of recruits to Minnesota, while the No. 9 Pioneers are looking to prove they can contend again despite losing some key pieces over the summer. The Huskies lost Mikey Eyssimont, who led the team with 17 goals last season, and defenseman Will Borgen, but have four of their top-five scorers back: forward Robby Jackson, defenseman Jimmy Schuldt, forward Ryan Poehling and forward Blake Lizotte. The Pioneers lost their head coach as well, but will have some significant players to replace after seeing their big three — leading scorers Henrik Borgstrom, Troy Terry and Dylan Gambrell — head to the pros.

 

Nov. 10 — Wisconsin vs. No. 13 Minnesota (7 p.m., FOX Sports North)

This rivalry wasn’t kind to the Badgers last season. The Gophers went 3-1 against them last year, including a 7-1 rout in their final meeting. Scoring and goaltending are both major question marks for the Badgers, but Wisconsin has five NHL picks patrolling the blue line, and could make this series interesting regardless of the projections.

 

Nov. 30 — No. 13 Minnesota vs. No. 3 Ohio State (7 p.m., FOX Sports North)

The Buckeyes enter the season at No. 3 after finishing second in the Big Ten a year ago. Picked to win the Big Ten in the conference’s preseason poll, Ohio State didn’t lose much firepower over the summer. Four of the Buckeyes’ top-five scorers return this season — Tanner Laczynski, Mason Jobst, Dakota Joshua and Freddy Gerard — while goaltender Sean Romeo is back after posting a .927 save percentage and a 2.06 goals-against average a season ago. The Gophers struggled to hang with Ohio State last year, going 1-2-1.

 

Nov. 30 — No. 1 Minnesota Duluth vs. No. 11 North Dakota (7 p.m., FOX Sports North PLUS)

North Dakota is in an unfamiliar spot after missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002. Questions abound in goal following the departure of senior Cam Johnson, but head coach Brad Berry adds a pair of highly touted defensemen in freshmen Jacob Bernard-Docker and Johnny Tychonick to make up for a few more early losses. They’ll have their hands full with the defending champs, which swept the Fighting Hawks in Duluth last season.

 

Jan. 25-26 — No. 13 Minnesota vs. Wisconsin (both games 7 p.m.; Jan. 25 on FOX Sports North PLUS, Jan. 26 on FOX Sports North)

You know the drill: They call it a “border battle” for a reason.

 

March 9 — No. 6 St. Cloud State vs. No. 1 Minnesota Duluth (6 p.m., FOX Sports North PLUS)

This one could decide the conference, as these potential contenders battle in St. Cloud during the final weekend of regular-season play. SCSU had UMD’s number last season, going 3-1 against the Bulldogs.