MINNEAPOLIS – The University of Minnesota men’s hockey team is set to kick off the 2023-24 season with a series against St. Thomas on October 13-14. The first game will take place on Friday the 13th at 7:30 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center, followed by the home opener on Saturday at 6 p.m. at 3M Arena at Mariucci. Fans can watch the games on FOX 9 or tune into the Gopher Radio Network 1130 KTLK-AM/103.5 FM.
During the offseason, 3M Arena at Mariucci underwent a major renovation, including the installation of a state-of-the-art ice plant and a more energy-efficient refrigeration system. The ice sheet was also reduced in size from 200-by-100 feet to a hybrid size of 200-by-89 feet, similar to an NHL ice sheet. This change added approximately 257 seats to the arena, bringing the official capacity to 10,257. The dasher boards and glass were also updated for player safety, and a modern LED system was installed to enhance brightness inside the arena.
Minnesota and FOX 9 have partnered for local television broadcasts of 10 home games and four road games in the 2023-24 season. Additionally, the Big Ten Network will broadcast 11 games, and one game will air on FS1. The schedule page on GopherSports.com will have the latest information on viewing options for every game.
In an exhibition game against Bemidji State, the Gophers had a slow start but came back to win 5-2. Rhett Pitlick and Oliver Moore each scored two goals in the victory, and nine different players contributed points. Justen Close and Zach Wiese combined for 24 saves in goal.
The season opener against St. Thomas holds historical significance as it marks the first meeting between the two teams since January 1927. The University of Minnesota will also host the 2024 NCAA Frozen Four at Xcel Energy Center.
The Gophers are aiming for their third consecutive regular season title in the Big Ten Conference, a feat that no other team has achieved in the conference’s 10-year history. They were picked as the preseason favorites by the conference coaches.
Six players from Minnesota were named to the Preseason All-B1G Teams for 2023-24, including Jimmy Snuggerud and Luke Mittelstadt on the First Team. Bryce Brodzinski, Justen Close, Mike Koster, and Ryan Chesley also received recognition.
Minnesota holds a 2-1-0 record against St. Thomas in their all-time series, dating back to 1923. This will be the first meeting between the two teams as NCAA Division I members.
The Gophers have a strong track record in season openers, with a 63-37-2 all-time record in the first game of the year. They have a 68-31-3 record in home openers and a 4-1-0 record in season openers played at Xcel Energy Center.
Minnesota had the highest-scoring offense in the nation in the 2022-23 season, averaging 4.2 goals per game. They return 108 total goals from 13 different players, including Jimmy Snuggerud, who scored 21 goals as a freshman.
The Gophers’ roster for the 2023-24 season consists of mostly homegrown talent, with 23 out of 25 players coming from Minnesota. 17 of these players are from within 40 miles of campus.
Thirteen players on the Minnesota roster have been drafted into the NHL since 2019, including two first-round selections in this year’s freshman class. The Gophers have had the most draft selections (239) of any NCAA men’s hockey program.
Xcel Energy Center has been a successful venue for the Gophers, with a 25-19-1 record and six NCAA Tournament victories. The team won a national championship at the arena in 2002.