East Lansing, Mich. — Michigan State’s 2013-14 hockey schedule was unveiled today (Thursday, June 13) by head coach Tom Anastos, and features 21 home dates and opponents from each of the six Division I hockey conferences. As the first season in the Big Ten Hockey Conference brings some changes from MSU’s traditional slate, Anastos believes that the schedule will not only be a highly competitive one for his young Spartan squad, but also provide fans an entertaining lineup of home games at Munn Ice Arena.
MSU’s schedule for the upcoming season has a mix of traditional rivalries, new conference opponents, historical powers, and recent heavyweights to provide fans 21 home games from October to March. With the inaugural season of Big Ten hockey, a new playoff format will also be on the docket, as all six teams will compete at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. March 20-22 for the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“We are very happy with the dynamics of this season’s schedule,” said Anastos. “Our fans will have the opportunity to see all of our Big Ten rivals at Munn Arena as part of the inaugural Big Ten Conference season. We will play games against teams from every conference in the nation, outdoor games as part of the Great Lakes Invitational, as well as our traditional game against Michigan in Hockeytown at Joe Louis Arena. It’s a really tough schedule – and our team is excited about the challenges it presents.”
The 2013-14 schedule features at least two games against teams from every Division I conference next season. MSU has four contests against teams from Hockey East, five against WCHA teams, and two each against teams from ECAC Hockey, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC), and Atlantic Hockey. The Spartans will also play a pair of home exhibition games against Western Ontario and the US National Team Development Program as part of its 21-game home schedule.
The Spartans host Western Ontario on Oct. 9 for fans’ first look at the 2013-14 squad, which will feature six new faces and 18 total underclassmen on the roster. MSU officially opens the year on the road at the Mullins Center in Amherst, Mass (Oct. 18-19) for a two-game set with the University of Massachusetts, then continues its four-game stretch against Hockey East foes when it welcomes UMass-Lowell (Oct. 25) and Boston University (Oct. 26) to Munn Ice Arena for the Spartans’ home opening weekend. The River Hawks appeared in the Frozen Four last season, while BU won its most recent of five all-time National Championships in 2009. MSU will then play American International, a member of Atlantic Hockey, at home in a Friday-Sunday series on Nov. 1 and Nov. 3.
MSU will play on the road at Michigan Tech on Nov. 8/9, making its first trip to Houghton since February 1984. The teams will also meet in the first round of the Great Lakes Invitational in late December.
Following a bye week, the Spartans will play a home-and-home series with NCHC member Western Michigan. The Broncos will play at Munn on Friday, Nov. 22 before hosting the Spartans the following night in Kalamazoo; the teams will also possibly meet on day two of the GLI.
Princeton comes to East Lansing for a two-game set on Nov. 29/Dec. 1. The teams have played just three games in the all-time series, the last coming in January 1980.
The opening Big Ten hockey weekend comes Dec. 6-7 at home against Minnesota, but is the lone conference series in the 2013 portion of the schedule. MSU will host Ferris State in the US Hockey Hall of Fame Game at Munn Ice Arena on Saturday, Dec. 14. After a hiatus for holiday break, MSU, Michigan Tech, Western Michigan, and Michigan will play the 49th annual Great Lakes Invitational at Comerica Park; this event was postponed last year due to the lockout in the National Hockey League, but will be played at the home of the Detroit Tigers on Dec. 27-28, in advance of the NHL’s Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.
MSU has a steady diet of Big Ten competition once the calendar turns to 2014. MSU travels to Columbus for a series Jan. 10-11, then welcomes Penn State on Jan. 17-18. The Spartans host archrival Michigan on Jan. 24, then take on the Wolverines the next night at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit (Saturday, Jan. 25.)
MSU’s series at Minnesota will be played as either a Friday-Saturday (Jan. 30-31) or Saturday-Sunday (Jan. 31-Feb. 1) series at Mariucci Arena; those dates will be finalized closer to the season. MSU hosts Ohio State Feb. 7-8, then gets its first look at Penn State’s brand-new Pegula Arena on Feb. 14-15. MSU continues its road trip the following weekend at Wisconsin (Feb. 21-22), but plays four of its final five games at home.
MSU opens that stretch with a bye weekend in the Big Ten schedule, during which the Spartans will host the US National Team Development Program (Saturday, March 1). MSU plays its lone game of the season at Yost Ice Arena against Michigan on Friday, March 7, then gets the Wolverines at home the following night (March 8). Wisconsin serves as MSU’s final opponent of the regular season, coming to East Lansing for a two-game set March 14-15.
The Big Ten Tournament – a single-elimination, six-team tournament contested over three days – begins on Thursday, March 20 in St. Paul, Minn. The Big Ten Tournament is scheduled to alternate between The Xcel Center and Joe Louis Arena.