In a world where Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota are continually destined to open the season against one another, the 2017-18 version will be a part of the season opening Ice Breaker Tournament.
The Bulldogs will host the 21st annual Ice Breaker Tournament at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth, MN.
Minnesota (Big Ten), Union (ECAC) and Michigan Tech (WCHA) join the NCHC hosts for a proper tournament. Minnesota and UMD are in one semifinal and Michigan Tech and Union are in the other The winners face one another in the championship and semifinal losers will play for third place.
There is history with many of the programs. Three of the four teams played together in the WCHA for decades. The fourth, Union, has some recent history with Minnesota, winning the 2014 national championship against the Gophers. Minnesota and Minnesota Duluth also played in the 2014 Ice Breaker against one another.
These games are exempt from the normal 34 game schedule. All four teams will be able to play 36 games that season.
The 2015 version of the Ice Breaker Tournament, put on by College Hockey Inc., was just played in Portland, Maine with North Dakota being declared the winner. The 2016 Ice Breaker Tournament will be hosted by Denver.
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate