Ten NHL games for UND fans to circle on the calendar

Jul. 23—The NHL announced its regular-season schedule Thursday night during ESPN's SportsCenter.

There should be plenty of intriguing games for UND fans, who will have an opportunity for a pair of NHL/UND doubleheaders during the 2021-22 season.

In October, the Nashville Predators are at home the afternoon before the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game between UND and Penn State. Rocco Grimaldi and the Predators will host Brock Nelson and the New York Islanders in the hours before the UND-Penn State showdown.

The second doubleheader opportunity will come in March, if UND reaches the National Collegiate Hockey Conference championship game again.

The NCHC's third-place game is no more. Instead, the Xcel Energy Center will host an NHL game the afternoon before the Frozen Faceoff championship. This season, it will be Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks against the Minnesota Wild.

Here's a rundown of 10 NHL games for UND fans to circle on their calendars:

Oct. 12 — Seattle Kraken at Vegas Golden Knights: Former UND defenseman and coach Dave Hakstol will be behind the bench for the Seattle Kraken's first game in franchise history. The Kraken will play at Vegas, the last expansion team.

Oct. 13 — Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche: Toews missed all of last season with what doctors have called Chronic Immune Response Syndrome, but he says he's on track to play during 2021-22. Chicago's season-opener is in Denver on Oct. 13, which would be Toews' first game in more than a year.

Oct. 18 — Seattle at Philadelphia Flyers: Hakstol won't have to wait long to go back to Philadelphia, where he served as the head coach for three-and-a-half seasons from 2015-18. It's part of his season-opening road trip with the Kraken.

Oct. 23 — Vancouver Canucks at Seattle: After opening the season on a four-game road trip, the Kraken will play their home opener at Climate Pledge Arena on a Saturday night. It will come against Brock Boeser, a player Hakstol recruited to UND, and the Vancouver Canucks.

Oct. 30 — New York Islanders at Nashville Predators: More than 17,000 UND fans are expected to be in Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on the night of Oct. 30, but some may opt to take in a pair of games that day. In the afternoon, former teammates Nelson and Grimaldi will go head-to-head.

Nov. 1 — Seattle at Edmonton Oilers: The head man behind both benches will be a former UND player when Hakstol's Kraken take on Dave Tippett's Edmonton Oilers. There's no doubt this game will carry a little extra significance for Hakstol, who was born and raised just outside of Edmonton.

Nov. 2 — Ottawa Senators at Minnesota Wild: The best chance to catch UND's newest NHLers, Shane Pinto and Jacob Bernard-Docker, in this area will come just a few days after Nashville, when the Senators visit Minnesota's Xcel Energy Center. Ottawa's trip to Winnipeg is on Jan. 15, which conflicts with a UND home game against Omaha.

Dec. 12 — Florida Panthers at Colorado: UND fans in Colorado can make a big weekend out of this one. The day after UND wraps up its two-game series at Robson Arena against Colorado College, Matt Kiersted and the Florida Panthers roll into Denver to take on Tyson Jost and the Colorado Avalanche.

March 17 — Detroit Red Wings at Vancouver: Last season, NHL teams only played within their own division during the regular season, so this will be Troy Stecher's first time heading back to his hometown to take on his old team. Stecher is in his second year with Detroit.

March 19 — Chicago at Minnesota: The WCHA wiped out the Final Five's third-place game in its last couple of years prior to college hockey's major realignment. A Minnesota Wild game replaced the third-place game on Saturday afternoon. The NCHC has been planning to do this for a few years now and it will finally happen this season. A Blackhawks-Wild game will replace a third-place game this year on Saturday afternoon.