The University of Michigan released their 2009-10 hockey schedule today and the Wolverines are going to be getting plenty of frequent flier miles early on.

U-M warms up Oct. 3-4 with exhibition games against the U.S. NTDP Under-18 Team and Windsor. They will then hop on a plane to Anchorage, Alaska to take part in the Kendall Auto Hockey Classic. Michigan will face CCHA foe Alaska on Oct. 9 and Alaska-Anchorage the following night. The game against the Nanooks is a non-conference contest.

The Wolverines will return home to a bye week, then have a Thursday night game at Yost Ice Arena against Niagara before flying out to Boston University. They did this last season, too. I didn’t like it then and still don’t like it. Would have preferred them playing two games out East as opposed to a Thursday-Saturday home-and-away. Just too awkward. Hope they fair better out in Boston this time around.

Michigan will stay on the road for Halloween weekend and open their CCHA schedule with a pair of games at Lake Superior State. Too bad because Halloween games at Yost are always fun events!

The Wolverines finally return home Nov. 6 as they host Miami for a weekend series. They follow that up with a home-and-home against Michigan State, with the Friday game in Ann Arbor.

U-M will play a home-and-neutral against Bowling Green the next weekend, with the Friday night game at Yost and the Saturday night game at Lucas County Arena in Toledo, Ohio.

After that it’s the annual College Hockey Showcase with the Wolverines hosting Minnesota and Wisconsin this season.

Down to Columbus for a pair against Ohio State, then back to Yost to open a Friday-Sunday home-and-home against Notre Dame to close out the first half of the season.

Needless to say, that’s a pretty action packed schedule they have going on with a lot of road travel early on. Only one game at Yost the first month of the season will test the Wolverines early on and hopefully pay dividends by helping them gel and grow together as the season progresses.

The 45th annual Great Lakes Invitational takes place Dec. 29-30, which is a very rare Tuesday-Wednesday encounter. With the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays falling on the previous and post Fridays, I guess they had no choice. Michigan will open against RPI and face Michigan State or Michigan Tech the following night.

The Battle of I-94 opens the second half of the season as Michigan plays a home-and-home against Western Michigan, with the opener in Kalamazoo. That takes place January 8. I haven’t looked at the World Junior Championship schedule yet, but that seems late enough that any kids who go should be back home in time and ready to play.

The Wolverines then host Alaska and have a home-and-home against Ferris State. They will play at Michigan State then the annual battle with the Spartans at Joe Louis Arena.

On Thursday, February 4 Michigan will play at Bowling Green, then on Saturday, February 6 they face the Wisconsin Badgers in the Camp Randall Hockey Classic outdoor game.

Michigan will complete their home-and-home with Bowling Green on Tuesday, February 9, then they have to travel to Nebraska-Omaha that weekend to face the Mavericks.

Michigan returns home to host Northern Michigan, then closes the CCHA regular season with a Thursday-Saturday home-and-home against Notre Dame.

Lots of schedule craziness. Tuesday games, a Wednesday, a couple Thursday, and a Sunday game.

I hate the timing of the outdoor hockey game. In the middle of February we should be focusing on the home stretch of the CCHA regular season, not a meaningless non-conference game. Not to mention the havoc it creates with our schedule. Five games in a nine day span to open February, four of which are on the road. I hope our boys don’t get burned out at such a critical point of the season. No rest for the weary, that’s for sure.

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