MINNEAPOLIS — Coming off a Frozen Four appearance last season, the University of Minnesota men’s hockey team announced a home-heavy schedule Monday for the 2012-13 season.
The Gophers will play 20 regular-season home games at Mariucci Arena as part of their 36-game schedule. It will be the final season in the WCHA for Minnesota, which joins the newly-formed Big Ten Conference the following the season. The Gophers, who won the MacNaughton Cup trophy as the WCHA regular-season champion, have four games next season with Alaska Anchorage, Minnesota State and Wisconsin as part of a 28-game conference schedule.
The schedule plays into Minnesota’s hands as it tries to finish its time in the WCHA with two straight MacNaughton Cups. Alaska Anchorage, Minnesota State and Wisconsin finished at the bottom of the WCHA in 2011-12.
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The season begins with two home games against Michigan State, which will also be joining the Big Ten Conference, along with Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin. The Gophers will host the Spartans the second weekend in October, with the exact schedule dates to be announced later.
The first road trip opens the WCHA schedule at Michigan Tech on Oct. 19-20.
Minnesota will host the Mariucci Classic from Dec. 28-29 with Air Force, Boston College and Alabama Huntsville. The Gophers lost to Boston College in the Frozen Four semifinals last month.
There will be two exhibition games next season. Minnesota plays Lethbridge on Oct. 6 and the U.S. Under-18 national team on Oct. 26.