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May 22, 2013The Michigan hockey team released its complete 2013-14 schedule late Tuesday, and the non-conference portion has a distinctly East Coast flavor, with five Hockey East foes slated for early-season matchups.
Michigan Hockey Schedule
The Wolverines were locked into 20 Big Ten games, four (two home and two away) against each of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State. Additionally, the Maize and Blue are scheduled to play in the Great Lakes Invitational, this time outdoors at Comerica Park (home of the Detroit Tigers). That left 12 slots to fill.
Utilizing the plethora of opportunities now at their disposal, Michigan entered into two-year agreements with Boston College, New Hampshire, Boston University and UMass-Lowell, and will welcome BC, BU and UML this year (while traveling to UNH) before flipping the sites in 2014-15.
"We have the chance to put more long-term deals together because of how many non-conference games there are," said associate head coach Billy Powers. "When we were in the CCHA, and we had just four non-conference games to play around with, we were often forced to make one-year agreements and that limited who you could schedule, but now we can really set things in place to attract programs with great tradition."
Michigan and Boston University have played 23 times with 10 meetings taking place in NCAA Tournament play. U-M is 13-10 overall against the Terriers. Likewise, the Wolverines have played Boston College 17 times, including six times in the postseason. Michigan has played both teams in the same regular season five times, most recently in 2007-08.
The Wolverines will also take on UMass-Lowell, which made it to the NCAA Frozen Four this past April, and will reacquaint themselves with New Hampshire (last played in 2010-11).
In addition to the five Hockey East foes, Michigan will also play Niagara (near Buffalo) and RIT in Rochester, N.Y.
"If you look at our history and our recent history - our captain and assistant captain are both from New England - we've had a pretty good run of prep school kids from the East Coast, and while it's not our primary recruiting territory, it's been good to us, and to get some exposure out there never hurts," Powers said.
"We don't have a strong Midwest and West presence outside of our Big Ten opponents this year but that should change going forward because we'd like to continue our CCHA relationships and we'd like to play some teams in the NCHC (National Collegiate Hockey Conference) that also have great histories and who we have great rivalries with."
U-M will face only one NCHC program this year when it trips to Nebraska-Omaha for a two-game series. The Wolverines will also play WCHA foes Michigan Tech (for two games) and Ferris State (for one game).
Though Yost Ice Arena will play host to only 16 regular-season games and two exhibitions, down from an average of 18 regular-seasomn contests over the past five years, the quality of the opponents should ramp up excitement.
"Some of our players have already texted me about the schedule and how unbelievable it looks," Powers said. "They're pumped, and we're pumped, and I think the fan base will really enjoy it because of the nature of the teams we're bringing to Ann Arbor.
"It will be challenging, but from our experience with the NCAA, if we win more than we lose, and finish top two or three in our league, your chances are pretty darn good you'll be in the tournament. We have to see how it begins playing out with all of the realignment in college hockey, but if we take care of our business, with that schedule, we should be in good shape."