2014-15 Wisconsin men's hockey schedule close to being finalized

Wisconsin will host Boston University for a non-conference series Jan. 9-10. - Richard T Gagnon - Getty Images

Wisconsin fans will see former WCHA rival North Dakota in the Kohl Center this season, in addition to national power Boston University.

Wisconsin's hockey slate is close to being finalized, and it appears to be one of the toughest schedules in recent memory. The Badgers are set to play just 18 home games during the regular season, which has happened just twice previously during the Mike Eaves era at UW.

Wisconsin's season begins with a trip to Alaska to play one game each against Fairbanks and Anchorage. The Badgers stay on the road in week No. 2, as they will face Northern Michigan in a non-conference series at the Resch Center in Green Bay.

UW's first home series of the season will come against former WCHA rival North Dakota, which will roll into Madison Nov. 7-8. Other highlights on the schedule include a non-conference road trip to face Denver and Colorado College for one game each in mid-November, and a home non-conference series against Boston University in January.

Other home non-conference opponents this season include Michigan Tech and Ferris State. Wisconsin will also play an exhibition game against the U.S. National Team Development Program U-18 team in December.

There is still one road non-conference series left to be scheduled, and that will take place either the weekend of Oct. 24-25 or Oct. 31-Nov. 1. Based on finalized schedules from around the country, potential opponents could include Vermont, Northeastern, Notre Dame, UMass-Lowell, Princeton or Harvard.

Wisconsin's first Big Ten conference action comes at home against Penn State Dec. 5-6. UW's first road Big Ten series doesn't come until the after the New Year, when it travels to Minnesota.

An oddity that will likely irk many fans is the possibility the Badgers play games on non-traditional days this season. According to the schedule released by the Big Ten on Thursday, Wisconsin could play up to as many as five games on either Thursday or Sunday.

Two of those non-traditional day games come at home, with one being a potential Sunday game vs. Michigan Jan. 25, and one a potential Thursday game vs. Minnesota Jan. 29. Given the short turnaround, I'd render a guess it's unlikely both scenarios occur.

Non-traditional games on the road include potential contests at Minnesota Jan. 15 (Thursday), at Ohio State Feb. 15 (Sunday) and at Michigan March 1 (Sunday).

One thing you can expect is the Big Ten television deal to expand this season. By my count, the Big Ten has blocked off eight Thursdays and four Sundays for games this season. There's only one reason for the league to do so, and that of course is TV.

2014-15 WISCONSIN MEN'S HOCKEY SCHEDULE
October 10/11 Friday/Saturday Fairbanks/Anchorage Away
17/18 Friday/Saturday Northern Michigan (Resch Center, Green Bay) Away
24/25 TBD potential non-conference series Away
31/1 TBD potential non-conference series Away
November 7/8 Friday/Saturday North Dakota HOME
14/15
21/22 Friday/Saturday Colorado College/Denver Away
28/29 Friday/Saturday Ferris State HOME
December 5/6 Friday/Saturday Penn State HOME
12 Friday U.S. NTDP U-18 (exhibition) HOME
19/20
26/27
January 2/3 Friday/Saturday Michigan Tech HOME
9/10 Friday/Saturday Boston University HOME
16/17 Friday/Saturday Minnesota Away
23/24 Friday/Saturday Michigan HOME
30/31 Friday/Saturday Minnesota HOME
February 6/7 Friday/Saturday Penn State Away
13/14/15 Friday or Sunday/Saturday Ohio State Away
20/21 Friday/Saturday Michigan State HOME
27/28 Friday/Saturday Michigan Away
March 6/7 Friday/Saturday Michigan State Away
13/14 Friday/Saturday Ohio State HOME
19/20/21 Thursday/Friday/Saturday Big Ten Hockey Tournament Detroit
27/28/29 Friday/Saturday/Sunday NCAA Regional TBD
April 9/11 Thursday/Saturday Frozen Four Boston

For more hockey coverage, follow Andy on Twitter --
You can also reach Andy via e-mail (AndyJohnsonB5Q@gmail.com)

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