What's the likelihood of seeing Big Ten teams in October? I would think not likely. Most of the conference games will start up in November or early December. This years non-conference schedule was pretty blah, now next years is looking like it's going to be great, but that's next year.
One thing that has hurt attendance has been ticket prices. There were a couple different people who sat where I do that had season tickets as long as I have or longer and they dropped them about 3 years ago. Now granted at that time there were a lot of other things going on than just ticket price increases, people were losing jobs, some were struggling to pay mortgages, etc... so dumping tickets to sporting events is a no brainer for the budget, but the price of tickets has hurt and continues to hurt. There are other people that are waiting for the AD to drop PSD's on the hockey ticket buyers or looking for another jump in prices and if that happens there will be another wave of people dropping tickets. Figure a family of four, they are dropping $100 on tickets (that's the cheap seats), then depending on where they come from there could be gas and parking. There will be dinner somewhere. If they are in town they could eat at home, but the kids usually want something at the game even it's only a $4.00 soda, but if they are from out of town that usually means eating out. You can easily rack up another $50 on all this without even breaking a sweat and that's one game. If they are season ticket holders they are doing this 20, 21, 22 times a year, that's some serious coin for most families just to attend hockey games.
Attendance for games in October are hit by a number of things. Football is one, if the football team is out of town (which they usually are when hockey is home, not always, but usually) that often means they play the late afternoon game or even at night. That hurts attendance, people stay home to watch the football game. If the Tigers are in the playoffs and they are playing on a hockey night, it hurts attendance.
It used to be really rare for there to be tickets available from the box office for most of the home games. They were either sold to season ticket holders or sold as single games before the season started. These days it's really rare for the AD not to be pushing tickets right up to game time. I got e-mails all season long this year, hockey tickets are available, if you want more or know someone looking to attend they are available. That doesn't even count people selling tickets outside, or the tickets that show up on stub hub or on the ticket exchange, etc..
There are a lot of reasons, but they are having trouble selling the place out and they have been having trouble for the last few years.