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Drop the puck: Gophers men’s hockey to open season in November

Nathan Burke
Nathan Burke during an NCAA hockey game on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/Bart Young)

The Gophers men’s hockey season is a go.

The Big Ten announced Tuesday that the 2020-21 hockey season will start as soon as Nov. 13 and will feature 24-game conference schedules, plus an additional four games per school against Arizona State. Those games will be hosted by the Big Ten teams. The conference schedule will conclude March 18-20 with the Big Ten tournament. Arizona State has been playing as an independent.

“We can’t wait to drop the puck on the 100th season of Gopher Hockey,” coach Bob Motzko said in a statement. “We’ve asked our guys for patience and diligence as this process has unfolded, and they’ve been amazing. Now we finally have a good idea of when we’ll be playing, and I have no doubt that the team will be ready to go when the time comes. We are certainly appreciative of the Big Ten’s commitment through this process, and we will work with the conference to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes throughout the season.”

The Big Ten tournament will return to the one-weekend, single-elimination format used during the first four years of hockey in the conference and will feature all seven Big Ten teams – the Gophers, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin. The tournament will be held March 18-20 and will consist of six games (three games on Thursday; two on Friday; and the championship on Saturday).

Teams will follow the same medical protocols that were developed by the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force and announced in September, including daily antigen testing, enhanced cardiac screening and an enhanced data-driven approach when making decisions about practice/competition. Arizona State has agreed to adhere to the same testing protocols as the Big Ten teams.

The full Big Ten hockey schedule, as well as further details regarding the 2021 Big Ten tournament, will be announced at a later date.