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Series against a pair of NCAA Frozen Four teams to start the season and a trip to Nashville for a tournament involving Eastern powers are among the highlights of the Gophers women's hockey team's 2021-22 schedule announced Wednesday.

The Gophers, aiming to return to the NCAA tournament after being left out this season for the first time since 2007, open the season Oct. 1-2 against NCAA semifinalist Ohio State at Ridder Arena before facing another Frozen Four team, Minnesota Duluth, on Oct. 8-9 in Duluth.

Thanksgiving weekend includes a trip to Nashville for the Smashville NCAA Women's Hockey Showcase. The Gophers will play Mercyhurst on Nov. 26 and either Boston College or Colgate on Nov. 27.

Along with the 28-game WCHA schedule, the Gopher will play nonconference opponents Colgate (Oct. 22-23 on the road) and Rochester Institute of Technology (Nov. 12-13 at Ridder).

Minnesota will face two-time defending national champion Wisconsin on Dec. 3-4 in Madison and Jan. 21-22 at Ridder. Games against WCHA newcomer St. Thomas will be Jan. 7-8 at St. Thomas and Feb. 18-19 at Ridder in the final series of the regular season.

WCHA schedule announced

St. Thomas, making the move from NCAA Division III to Division I, will open its first season in the WCHA women's league with a trip to Ohio State on Sept. 24-25. The Tommies will make their WCHA home debut on Oct. 1-2. Those are two of the highlights of the league's 2021-22 schedule. Others include:

* Defending NCAA champion Wisconsin and 2021 Frozen Four qualifier Ohio State will meet Oct. 22-23 in Madison and Feb. 18-19 in Columbus.

* Northern Minnesota rivals Bemidji State and Minnesota Duluth, who have met in the WCHA quarterfinals in five of the past seven years, meet Nov. 19-20 in Bemidji and Jan. 14-15 in Duluth.

* St. Cloud State and Minnesota State Mankato face off Nov. 5-6 in St. Cloud and Dec. 10-11 in Mankato.