McLeod blog: Gophers make return to North Dakota in October

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll save you the trouble as well as any further effort: the Minnesota Gophers will make their much-anticipated return to Grand Forks to play North Dakota on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 20-21. That will be the third weekend of the 2017-18 schedule, which was released Thursday. It will be Minnesota’s first trip to Engelstad Arena since 2012.

The new schedule opens with an exhibition game against Alberta and then the regular season powers up with a trip to Duluth for the Ice Breaker Tournament, joining Minnesota Duluth, Michigan Tech and Union. The Big Ten season kicks into high gear as Penn State comes to Mariucci Arena on Oct. 13-14.

Notably, the schedule is devoid of the Mariucci Classic for the first time in a few years. The five-team, all-Minnesota Division I tournament was axed following last season because of insufficient interest and revenue.

There’s still a question concerning this season’s Hockey Day Minnesota: while we know that much of the event will be played in St. Cloud’s Eastman Park and Lake George, we still don’t know when. The obvious date is Jan. 27 when Notre Dame is at Mariucci Arena. If it’s the previous week, the Gophers will be on the road at Madison Square Garden as part of a Big Ten doubleheader.

Additionally, the 2017-18 campaign will see a new format to the Big Ten playoffs with the best-of-three quarterfinal series slated for March 2-4 followed by single-game matchups for the semifinals (March 10) and championship game (March 17). High seeds will host all games during the Big Ten playoffs while the top overall seed will receive a bye for the quarterfinal series.

Date Opponent Location
10/01/17 vs. Alberta (Exhibition) Home
10/06/17 Ice Breaker Tournament @UMD UMD, MTU, Union) Away
10/07/17 Ice Breaker Tournament @UMD UMD, MTU, Union) Away
10/13/17 vs. Penn State Home
10/14/17 vs. Penn State Home
10/20/17 at North Dakota Away
10/21/17 at North Dakota Away
10/27/17 vs. Clarkson Home
10/28/17 vs. Clarkson Home
11/03/17 vs. Michigan State Home
11/04/17 vs. Michigan State Home
11/10/17 at Michigan Away
11/11/17 at Michigan Away
11/17/17 vs.Harvard Home
11/18/17 vs.Harvard Home
11/24/17 at Notre Dame Away
11/25/17 at Notre Dame Away
12/01/17 vs. Wisconsin Home
12/02/17 vs. Wisconsin Home
12/08/17 at Ohio State Away
12/09/17 at Ohio State Away
12/29/17 vs. Army Home
12/30/17 vs. Army Home
01/06/18 at St. Cloud State Away
01/07/18 vs. St. Cloud State Home
01/12/18 vs. Michigan Home
01/13/18 vs. Michigan Home
01/18/18 at Michigan State Away
01/20/18 vs. Michigan State Madison Square Garden
01/26/18 vs. Notre Dame Home
01/27/18 vs. Notre Dame Home
02/09/18 at Wisconsin Away
02/10/18 at Wisconsin Away
02/16/18 vs. Ohio State Home
02/17/18 vs. Ohio State Home
02/23/18 at Penn State Away
02/24/18 at Penn State Away
Big Ten Tournament
03/02/18 Quarterfinals TBD
03/03/18 Quarterfinals TBD
03/04/18 Quarterfinals TBD
03/10/18 Semifinals TBD
03/17/18 Championship TBD
NCAA Tournament
03/23/18 NCAA regionals TBD
03/24/18 NCAA regionals TBD
04/05/18 Frozen Four Semifinals St. Paul
04/07/18 Frozen Four Championship St. Paul

DOUG McLEOD is a five-time Emmy Award-winning play-by-play announcer for Fox Sports and a longtime voice of Division I and NHL hockey. This will be his 22nd season calling Golden Gopher hockey games.