It has been known for some time that the Big Ten hockey season would start in November, but today more clarity was received when the conference announced the first-half of the 2020-21 schedule.
Michigan will start the season at home against Arizona State, who went 22-11-3 last season. Michigan was 18-4-4 a season ago with a hot stretch in January and February where they swept Notre Dame and Penn State back-to-back and won “The Duel in the D” against Michigan State. U.S. Hockey online’s preseason poll has Michigan at No. 12, while Arizona State came in at No. 15.
“They have a good team,” Michigan head coach Mel Pearson said about Arizona State. “They were gonna be in the NCAA Tournament last year.” Much of the talk about Michigan has resided in their freshman class, which has ten players. The youth movement has the prognosticators high on Michigan this season, as the Wolverines were unranked heading into last season. The difference a year makes. Even with the high ranking, Pearson called it “the way-too-early college hockey rankings” and acknowledges that even though the freshman are highly talented, some of whom have been drafted by NHL teams, they will make mistakes. “I know we’re going to make some mistakes,” Pearson said. “There are going to be some nights where our freshmen are going to look like freshmen, but a lot of nights they’re going to look like they’re not.”