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2012 NCAA Hockey schedule: Minnesota opens season against Michigan State

The Minnesota Golden Gophers kick off their hockey season on Friday night with a battle against the Michigan State Spartans

Harry How - Getty Images

The No.1/2 ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers hockey team will open their season on Friday against the No. 16 Michigan State Spartans.

Minnesota, a Frozen Four finalist last season, open the season tied atop the USA Today/USA Hockey rankings with Boston College. The Golden Gophers return 83 percent of its offense from last season, including center Nick Bjugstad. Bjugstad was a Second-Team All-American last season and All-WCHA First Team member. He was drafted 19th overall by the Florida Panthers in 2010.

Minnesota and Michigan State have a storied history, as the schools have played each other 156 times. The Golden Gophers hold a 101-43-12 record against the Spartans. The rivalry will only intensify when both teams join the new Big Ten Conference in 2013-14.

Elsewhere, Minnesota-Duluth will take on Ohio State. The Bulldogs went 25-10-6 last season under coach Scott Sandelin. The Buckeyes struggled last year, finishing the season with a record of 15-15-5.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.