Minnesota's six game WCHA homestand comes with a twist this weekend: the Gophers are no longer in the WCHA. Friday and Saturday's games against Wisconsin at Mariucci Arena are the only ones that count for points.
No really. It may have felt like the last three weeks were a traditional point in the season where the Gophers faced in-state rivals Minnesota State and Minnesota-Duluth followed by Wisconsin. Every maroon banner is in one form of a WCHA championship or another.
Well every banner except one: the Big Ten champions banner that was last updated in 1981.
This year sees Minnesota, Wisconsin and four other Big Ten schools playing in the inaugural season of B1G conference hockey. After a 9-2-1 start to non-conference play, the Gophers host Friday (November 29, 2013) the first-ever game played against one of the team's biggest rivals. On that end, it is a fitting way to kick off things.
Wisconsin (4-3-1), meanwhile, begins conference play after the Badgers were off for the third time in six weeks. One quirk of a 20 game conference schedule (compared to 28 in the WCHA) that begins on Black Friday is where at the point Minnesota has more wins than games Wisconsin has played.
(For Andy Johnson's Wisconsin-centric preview at Badgers SB Nation blog Bucky's Fifth Quarter, click here)
Here are the details of this weekend's series; including how to find ESPNU for Friday's game.
Game times and TV & Radio
Both games are being played at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis, MN.
Friday begins at 4 p.m. CT and airs on ESPNU. Saturday's series finale starts at 5 p.m. CT on both Fox Sports North and Fox Sports Wisconsin. Radio-wise, 1500ESPN has coverage in the Twin Cities while WIBA 1310 on Friday and WTSO 1070 will have Wisconsin's broadcast.
Both games this weekend can be streamed on BTN2Go.com, but Friday's is delayed until 11:00 p.m.
Where is ESPNU on my TV?
Good question reader. This normally comes up in March when ESPN, rights-holders of the NCAA Tournament, shift around games between ESPNU, ESPN2 and syndication. However, this season the Mothership broadcasts 7 Big Ten regular season games stretched between ESPNU and ESPNews.
Because it has been a while since last March, here's where most of you can find ESPNU.
Comcast (Minneapolis) - 869 (HD)
Comcast (St. Paul) - 269 (SD)/869 (HD) [Only a digital preferred channel]
Charter (Madison) - 310 (SD)
Other cable - check your local listings
Dish - 141
DirecTV - 208
Verizon Fios - 73(SD)/573(HD)
AT&T U-Verse - 605 (SD)/1605 (HD)
Big Ten Points & Shootouts
Unlike the WCHA, the Big Ten does utilize shootouts to break ties for conference purposes. These games still count as ties in the eyes of the NCAA. The conference uses the NHL shootout model of 3 shooters and then sudden-death after until there is a winner.
Points-wise teams get:
- 3 points for a regulation or overtime win
- 2 points for an shootout win
- 1 point for a shootout loss
- 0 points for a regulation or overtime loss
- Big Ten Hockey: Ohio State vs. Michigan Preview
- Gophers Hockey: Minnesota signs five players during early signing period
- Gophers Hockey: Leon Bristedt commits to Minnesota
- Eye on the Future: Gustav Olofsson, Colorado College
- Big Ten Three Stars: Michigan and Minnesota freshmen honored before conference play begins
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate