By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The men’s hockey season for the Gophers will start as early as mid-November, the Big Ten Conference announced this week.

In a statement Tuesday, the conference said that the season will begin as soon as Nov. 13, featuring 24-game conference schedules, plus an additional four games per school against Arizona State University.

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The season’s full schedule has yet to be released. However, Big Ten officials say the season will be structured to maximize flexibility so as to respond to any outbreaks or developments concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We can’t wait to drop the puck on the 100th season of Gopher Hockey,” University of Minnesota head coach Bob Motzko said, in a statement. “We’ve asked our guys for patience and diligence as this process has unfolded, and they’ve been amazing. Now we finally have a good idea of when we’ll be playing, and I have no doubt that the team will be ready to go when the time comes.”

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The season will end with the Big Ten Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 18-20. The format will be single-elimination and feature all seven conference teams: Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin.

Safety protocols for players and personnel during the season will be the same as those followed by Big Ten football teams. They’ll include daily antigen testing and cardiac screenings. Big Ten officials say they’ll take a data-driven approach when making any decisions about canceling practice or competitions.

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It’s unclear if fans will be allowed into Mariucci Arena. Minnesota health officials currently advise that no more than 250 people be allowed into indoor seated venues.