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Big Ten Hockey: 2015-16 Opening Weekend Preview

Five of the six teams open the season this weekend.

Matt Christians/SBN College Hockey

The preseason is the greatest time of the year.

No, seriously. Everyone thinks they are great. Nothing has gone wrong. The preseason is hockey's version of the boxing or MMA fight camp. Teams come into the year in "the best shape of our lives." No one believes anything else. In the rare case someone deviates from the norm by being honest, the end result is mockery by the public as they do not being an eternal optimist, believing they will overcome everything. Whether or not that is fair does not matter. It's a lie we must uphold one reason or another.

Even Wisconsin, whose needed reinforcements weren't as forthcoming (even when already on campus), is ready to compete for a title.

There is little to no reminiscing because frankly there is not much to reminisce. A rough year for the Big Ten that saw only Minnesota make the NCAA Hockey Tournament (where the Gophers got embarrassed by UMD)? Six months later the end of the season has been played out on a string. A new one awaits.

This time of year is when freshmen have unlimited potential. No one stays bad. The high expectations every player, coach and fan have for the year continued to grow throughout the offseason.

To be fair, six months is enough time off where 18-24 year-olds can come back to the public eye unrecognizable, fully developed in ways which weren't seen in March and April. Seniors can spend three years in purgatory before putting everything together. Juniors can take a next step. Sophomores hope to avoid the slump, or spring past the harsh freshmen learning curve.

But that's what makes this part of the year great. It's like the first day of school. Every person wants to make a good initial impression. After this weekend, there is film and tangible mistakes. The six month college hockey season is here for five of the six Big Ten teams.

Michigan State represents the Big Ten in the annual four-team Ice Breaker Tournament with Maine (Hockey East), Lake Superior State (WCHA) and North Dakota (NCHC). Ohio State has a home-and-home with former CCHA foe Bowling Green. Wisconsin hosts Northern Michigan.

On the other hand, Penn State and Minnesota begin with single games on Saturday. The Nittany Lions open on the road for the first time in school history, facing Canisius. At home and raising Big Ten regular season and conference tournament banners, Minnesota hosts Vermont in the U.S. Hall of Fame Game.

Only Michigan is idle this weekend.

Game times and how to watch are below.

Friday October 9

Northern Michigan at Wisconsin - Kohl Center in Madison, WI

Time: 7:00 p.m. CT

TV: None

Radio: WIBA AM 1310 (Saturday WTSO AM 1070)

Stream: BTN Plus ($$$)

Bowling Green at Ohio State - Value City Arena in Columbus, OH

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET

TV: None

Radio: 1460 AM Columbus/Buckeye Vision

Stream: BTN Plus ($$$)

Michigan State vs. Maine - Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine (Ice Breaker Tournament)

Time: 8:00 p.m. ET

TV: None

Radio: WJIM 1240 AM/Spartan Radio Network

Stream: None

Saturday October 10

Michigan State vs. Lake Superior State - Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, ME (Ice Breaker Tournament)

Time: 4:30 p.m. ET

TV: None

Radio: WVFN AM 730/Spartan Radio Network

Stream: None

Penn State at Canisius - HarborCenter in Buffalo, NY

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET

TV: None

Radio: WRSC 103.1 FM/Penn State Sports Network

Stream: EverSport TV ($$$)

Ohio State at Bowling Green - BGSU Ice Arena in Bowling Green, OH

Time: 7:37 p.m. ET

TV: None

Radio: 1460 AM Columbus/Buckeye Vision

Stream: WCHA.TV ($$$)

Vermont at Minnesota - Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis, MN (United States Hall of Fame Game)

Time: 7:00 p.m .CT

TV: Fox Sports North Plus

Radio: 1500 ESPN

Stream: BTN2Go/Fox Sports Go (Free)

Northern Michigan at Wisconsin - Kohl Center in Madison, WI

Time: 7:00 p.m. CT

TV: None

Radio: WTSO AM 1070

Stream: BTN Plus ($$$)

Exhibition results from last week:

Ohio State defeated Brock 4-0

Penn State defeated Windsor 5-2

Michigan State defeated Western Ontario 2-1

Michigan defeated Toronto 8-1

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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 --