This weekend sees 7 games on national television spread across 3 days. Several more are on regional networks. We preview them all.
All times listed are Eastern Standard Time. Cable listings vary. Check your local listings.
Friday January 10
Friday night features six games on national or regional networks. This is highlighted by a pair of games on both CBS Sports Net and BTN. The latter network kicks off 8 straight weeks of Big Ten Conference doubleheaders along with featuring all six B1G teams this weekend.
Air Force at Army 6:00 p.m. -CBS Sports Net (DirecTV 221/Dish 158)
The battle of the service academies is always a treat to see. If you haven't before, I highly recommend tuning in. Air Force (10-6-4, 5-3-3 Atlantic Hockey) has been the better of the two teams, led in scoring by the appropriately named Cole Gunner, and winning the Ledyard Bank Championship against Providence. Still, Army (3-14-0, 3-10-0 Atlantic Hockey) has plenty of motivation despite sitting in the Atlantic Hockey cellar. Eric Frede and Jim Paradise have the call.
Michigan State at Ohio State 6:30 p.m. -BTN (DirecTV 610/Dish 439)
These two schools have had exciting match-ups recently in different sports (well maybe not so great if you're a Buckeyes fan) and kick off the Frozen Fridays schedule. While not the top dogs of the Big Ten, both schools can make a dent in conference play. Michigan State (6-9-2, 0-1-1-1 Big Ten) goaltender Jake Hildebrand has played outstanding this season, having a .925 save percentage on a team that consistently gets out-shot. Ohio State (10-6-0, 0-2-0 Big Ten), meanwhile, is more offensive - the Buckeyes are averaging nearly 4 goals per game - and have gone through a list of goalies this season. Brendan Burke is calling this one.
(This and all BTN games are streamed online at BTN2Go.com)
Alabama-Huntsville at Notre Dame 7:35 p.m. -NBC Sports Net (DirecTV 220/Dish 159)
With all apologies to the 11 NHL draft picks playing, the best news about this game is that it's happening. Alabama-Huntsville (1-21-0, 1-13-0 WCHA) was left for dead before reviving the program. In its first season as members of the WCHA, however, the Chargers have struggled and only have a single win to show. Alabama-Huntsville has played more league games (14) than goals in league games (12). In fact, UAH is averaging just a goal per game. Notre Dame (10-8-1, 3-5-1 Hockey East) has also struggled adjusting to a new conference, but did defeat Alabama-Huntsville earlier this season and shown to be a dangerous team at times. We're assuming Dave Strader and Anson Carter have the call.
(Tonight's game will be streamed on NBC Live Extra, as will Saturday's exclusively)
Colorado College at North Dakota 8:30 p.m. -CBS Sports Net
North Dakota (9-7-2, 5-5-0 NCHC) looks to have hit its stride, winning 6 of 8 games since Thanksgiving. (UND did, however, split a pair of exhibitiong games in Canada last weekend.) Dave Hakstol's team traditionally does better in the second half and begin that quest against Colorado College (2-13-1, 2-5-3-1 NCHC) in Grand Forks. The young Tigers have struggled to score and put up shots in what appears to be a rebuilding year for Scott Owens. Still, CC has had recent success in the Ralph. Ben Holden, Dave Starman and rink-side reporter Shireen Saski will announce this one.
Michigan at Wisconsin 9 p.m. -BTN
The Wolverines and Badgers play in Madison Friday as both ranked teams, currently second and third, respectively, in the conference, are in different spots. Wisconsin (11-6-1, 2-2-0 Big Ten), in the middle of a 12 game homestand, will be without sophomore forward Nic Kerdiles and Derek Lee, but the veteran-laden team still has Joel Rumpel in net. Michigan (10-4-2, 2-0-0 Big Ten) had a week off after losing a pair of games outdoors in the GLI. Freshman forwards J.T. Compher and Tyler Motte used that time to heal and the Wolverines do get back sophomore Andrew Copp from the World Juniors.
Not sure who has this game, but it would make sense to see Dan Kelly and Rob Andringa in some capacity.
St. Cloud State at Denver 9:30 p.m. -Root Sports Rocky Mountain (DirecTV 683/Dish 414)
Last, but certainly not least, is a NCHC series opener between conference leader St. Cloud State (11-2-3, 6-1-1 NCHC) and fourth-place Denver (10-6-4, 4-3-1-1 NCHC). The Pioneers have been quiet in Jim Montgomery's first year, but DU has only lost once since November 2nd. Junior defenseman Joey LaLeggia remains one of the best offensive defensemen in the country as he sits tied for the blue liner lead in goals. Denver's opponent, St. Cloud State, has been continuing the success of last year's Frozen Four run with Jonny Brodzinski and Ryan Faragher both playing well. While the Huskies were off for nearly a month, this weekend's tough series puts the team right back into the thick of things.
With so many games on the docket tonight, Saturday-Monday's games will be spotlighted Saturday.
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate