Hockey team draws tough schedule

The Gophers open the season with eight WCHA games.

A 17-13-7 record would excite many hockey teams, but by all Minnesota standards the 2008-2009 season was a disappointment. With last season in the past, the Gopher menâÄôs squad is looking forward to next season, but the schedule will not be any easier. Minnesota starts the season with eight games against Western Collegiate Hockey Associate opponents. The Gophers host an exhibition game against British Colombia on Oct. 4 and then travel to UND for games on Oct. 16 and 17.Mark Bahr, director of hockey operations , said opening with games at UND will be a good test for the team right out of the gate. Bahr said he is also looking forward to the Gophers games at Alaska-Anchorage on Jan. 29 and 30. The distant trip provides a lot of time for team bonding, he said. Another key aspect of the schedule is finishing the season hosting WCHA rival Wisconsin. Because of Mariucci Arena hosting the 2010 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships , the March 5 game will be held at the Target Center. Bahr said the Target Center has provided a good venue for hockey in the past. He said it allows more people to see a hockey game and season ticket holders can still watch the game nearby. Finishing the season against a rival squad can determine whether or not the Gophers enter the postseason on a high note, but Bahr said he is excited to finish against Wisconsin. âÄúIt gives you some momentum going into the playoffs playing a big time rival, especially that time of year,âÄù Bahr said.