DURHAM — Fans of the University of New Hampshire hockey team will want to make sure they clear their calendars for Nov. 22 and 23.
The weekend before Thanksgiving, the Wildcats will play host to the University of Michigan at Whittemore Center. The Michigan weekend represents UNH’s feature non-league home opponent on the 2019-20 schedule, which was announced on Tuesday.
“Any time you have an opportunity to roll a Big Ten school into your building, it’s special,” second-year head coach Mike Souza said at the Wildcats’ schedule release party. “That weekend will be exciting. I think the football team plays Maine that weekend, too, so it will be a nice buzz on campus. I’m excited.”
According to Souza, this particular matchup has been a long time coming.
“We were able to put this together a few years ago. The (Michigan) athletic director (Warde Manuel) and I worked together at Connecticut, so we were able to get that on the schedule. We’ll reciprocate and go out there next year. We have a chance to measure ourselves against one of the perennial powerhouses in the country and that’s what we want to do. We want to compete against the best, so we’re excited to play Michigan here at home.”
The Wolverines missed the NCAA tournament last season but have made 37 trips in their history, winning the crown nine times, most of any Division I teams.
The two-game set with the Wolverines will be preceded by a two-night stay Nov. 15-16 in Maine. Due to the Hockey East scheduling process, UNH will play its top rival only twice, both on the road.
“It’s going to be awesome,” senior defenseman Anthony Wyse said. “Those games are the best. Obviously we’d rather have them here at the Whit than over there, but I think it will be a ton of fun.”
“I love it,” junior goalie and Bedford resident Mike Robinson said. “I love the hate going up there and getting chirped by their fans. But it’s definitely unfortunate that we don’t have a game with them at the Whit. Every game is the same. We treat it the same whether it’s home or away so we’ll be looking forward to it.”
The regular season is set to begin on Oct. 11 when the Wildcats travel to play Miami of Ohio on back-to-back nights before returning to the Northeast to play at Bentley (Oct. 18), at Merrimack (Oct. 25) and at Boston University (Oct. 26).
“The first five games are on the road, which honestly I think is good for us,” Wyse said. “It puts pressure on the other teams as we’re just starting the season. We can just focus on our game.”
UNH will play its home opener Friday, Nov. 1 against Boston College followed by in-state rival Dartmouth the next night. That Dartmouth-UNH matchup will be the only one between the Granite State rivals.
The Wildcats will also make a trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland, at the end of November for games against defending Beanpot and Hockey East Tournament champion Northeastern (Nov. 29) and either Colgate or Princeton (Nov. 30). UNH will have almost a week off when it returns from Northern Ireland.
“I don’t think anyone on our team has had an experience like that other than the European guys,” Robinson said. “That will be a pretty cool experience to play some college teams over there and kind of visit a different culture and take that all in.”
It’ll be a busy season, but UNH is ready.
“We’re excited to get going,” Souza said. “I know the kids are and it can’t get here fast enough for them.”
UNH 2019-20 hockey schedule
Sunday, Oct. 6, Guelph (Exhibition), 5 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 11, at Miami of Ohio, TBA
Saturday, Oct. 12, at Miami of Ohio, TBA
Friday, Oct. 18, at Bentley, TBA
Friday, Oct. 25, at Merrimack, TBA
Saturday, Oct. 26, at Boston University, TBA
Friday, Nov. 1, Boston College, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 2, Dartmouth, 7 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 10, UMass Amherst, 1 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 15, at Maine, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 16, at Maine, 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 22, Michigan, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 23, Michigan, 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 29, at Northeastern (Belfast), TBA
Saturday, Nov. 30, Colgate or Princeton (Belfast), TBA
Friday, Dec. 6, Merrimack, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 7, at Merrimack, TBA
Sunday, Dec. 29, at Army, 4 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 3, Yale, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 4, Brown, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 11, Northeastern, 7 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 17, at Providence, TBA
Saturday, Jan. 18, Providence, 7 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 24, at UMass Amherst, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 25, UMass Amherst, 7 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 31, UConn, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 1, at UConn, TBA
Friday, Feb. 7, Vermont, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 8, Vermont, 7 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 14, Boston University, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 15, at Boston University, TBA
Friday, Feb. 28, at UMass Lowell, 7:15 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 29, UMass Lowell, 7 p.m.
Friday, March 6, at Boston College, TBA
Saturday, March 7, Boston College, 7 p.m.