With the 2017-18 season inching closer by the day, and the annual Friends of NU Hockey meeting (which you can register for HERE) coming up in just two weeks, now seems like as good of a time as any to recap what we know already about next year’s slate of games. The official schedule will be released on GoNU.com on Monday, per the team’s Twitter account.
- The season will likely start with an exhibition game on the weekend of September 30th. While this would be the earliest start to the season in recent memory, many other schools have already announced their season openers for that weekend, including Hockey East foes BU, UMass, and UMass-Lowell. It’s been widely debated whether these exhibition games are worth the injury risk, especially after last year’s games resulted in bad blood across the league and an alleged attack on fans at Merrimack. While Providence has chosen to forego their matchup this year, there has been no indication NU plans to follow suit.
- The regular season will consist of 34 games, with 24 Hockey East games (two games against each of the other ten Hockey East teams, two additional home games, and two additional road games. These four “bonus” games are selected by Hockey East using an algorithm meant to keep each schedule as “fair” as possible. ) The remaining 10 games include the Beanpot and 8 other non-conference games.
- NU will travel to Rochester on October 14th and play in RIT’s homecoming hockey game, which is held at the Rochester Americans’ Blue Cross Arena.
- NU will play sets with Bentley and Quinnipiac, with the former continuing an annual home-and-home series and the latter confirmed to consist of two games at Matthews. Dates are not known for either series yet, although it’s interesting to note that Bentley is expected to open their new arena at the start of 2018. A Hockey East opponent would be a big draw for that opener, and although Bentley may prefer to play against a school they have a greater likelihood of beating, I doubt they have a better record against many other teams than they do against NU in recent history. (Yes, that sentence was painful to write, and it’s worth noting that NU may have finally broken their Bentley curse with their lopsided victory in the game at Matthews last season.)
- Moving on to Hockey East play, NU will play a three game set with UMass-Lowell, with the three games occurring on 10/27 (at Lowell), 10/28 (at NU), and 11/11 (at Lowell). The third game is one of NU’s four “bonus” conference games this year.
- NU will play at Boston College on Saturday, 12/9. This may be paired with a home game on 12/8, but as we know, the NU/BC series has taken place on weird dates for the last few years.
- Moving into the new year, NU will play a home and home set with UMass on January 19th and 20th, with the first game taking place in Amherst. Greg Carvel’s new look squad is still in the rebulding phase and may be the catalyst for the start of yet another Northeastern second half run.
- The Huskies will take on Providence in a home and home the next weekend, just one week before the Beanpot. This is a departure from the November series’ the Huskies have had against the Friars in recent years.
- Starting on Monday February 5th and continuing on the 12th is the annual pinnacle of the regular season, the Beanpot. NU will play Boston College in the first round this year, a matchup that should take place at 5 PM considering that Harvard-BU is a rematch of last year’s championship game. However, as Harvard will bring two fans to the game, the Beanpot could elect to give the late game to the two teams that have a better chance of making the arena look full.
- The remaining schedule is yet to be revealed. NU will play one of their Hockey East bonus games at Merrimack, meaning the other two games will take place at home. In the annual schedule compilation on USCHO, using knowledge of the currently confirmed matchups around the league alongside Hockey East’s goal to give each team a balanced schedule, it has been determined that the two extra home games will be against Vermont and New Hampshire. These games will flip in 2018-19, meaning NU will host UML and MC for the extra game and have road games at UNH and UVM. Keep an eye on the travel situation in 2018-19, unless NU manages to swing full weekends at UVM/UNH with standalone return games at Matthews, making two trips to Burlington (and to a lesser extent Durham) won’t be fun.
- Finally, the games you might have noticed by their omission are the planned return games at Arizona State. ASU has released their 2017-18 schedule and NU isn’t on it, which likely means the games were pushed back to next season to compensate for the additional games on the Hockey East schedule this year.
For the first look at the Huskies’ complete slate of games in the 2017-18 campaign, don’t forget check the team’s reveal on Monday and attend the Friends of NU Hockey meeting later this month. The event is free and features the chance to connect with the hockey staff and devoted alumni who support the hockey program. Topics that will be discussed include a season recap of 2016-17, a preview of the Coach Madigan’s thoughts for 2017-18, recruits and projections for the players, and discussion of future scheduling opportunities for the Huskies.