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Breaking Down the Sooners' 2021-22 Schedule

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

573 days.

That’s how long it will have been since the Sooners last played when they take the ice for the first time this fall. Citing COVID concerns, university officials barred the team from competition last season, making it the first school year without OU hockey since 2002-03 (the year before the team’s inaugural season).

For many, the world is a much different place than it was in February 2020, and the Sooners are no exception. They’ll be playing in a significantly restructured conference, with a new head coach, a new general manager, and two classes’ worth of new players. You’ve heard about some of these guys already, and you’ll hear plenty more down the road. For now, here’s a primer on the overhauled conference structure before we get into the schedule.

Heading into the 2020-21 season, the WCHL added Grand Canyon, UNLV, and Utah. This gave the conference a total of 10 teams, which it then split into two divisions. The Sooners were placed in the East Division, as were UCO, Colorado, Colorado State, and Missouri State. The three newcomers, Arizona, and Arizona State were placed in the West Division.

Unfortunately, Missouri State was the only WCHL team able to play last year, so this season will be the first time we see the new format in action. Each WCHL team will play two series--one home, one road--against every team in its division, as well as one home series and one road series against teams from the opposite division. That means teams will play 20 WCHL games, down from 22 under the previous format.

Now that we’re up to speed, let’s take a series-by-series look at the Sooners’ 2021-22 schedule. The dates have been set, but exact game times are still TBD.

Arkansas (Sept. 24-25)

The Sooners begin the season by welcoming a former WCHL foe to Blazers Ice Center. Arkansas iced a Division 1 team from 2015-2019 before reconsolidating with its Division 3 team. The influx of D1 talent has helped the D3 Razorbacks go 51-6-0 over the past two seasons, culminating in the program’s first ACHA title game appearance last spring. Oklahoma took both games against Arkansas at BIC in the D1 Razorbacks’ final season, winning 2-1 and 3-2.

@ UCO (Sept. 30)

Surprise! Oklahoma’s only in-state college hockey rivalry is being expanded. The Sooners and Bronchos will play one additional standalone game each semester going forward. These games won’t count toward the conference standings, but they will count toward something new that should make this rivalry even better. More information to come…

Waldorf (Oct. 1-2)

One of three first-time opponents on the Sooners’ schedule, Waldorf went 4-14-1 and was outscored 127-77 last season. However, the Warriors were rarely at full strength due to COVID issues. At one point, they played with just 10 skaters, and only six players managed to get through the season without missing a game. This is Waldorf’s third year at the Division 1 level.

@ Colorado State (Oct. 15-16)

Colorado State finished sixth in the WCHL in 2019-20 but managed to split with OU in Fort Collins. The Rams scored two goals late in the third period to steal a 4-3 win (despite being outshot 49-34) after the Sooners won 5-2 the previous night.

@ Colorado (Oct. 29-30)

The Sooners and Buffaloes produced an instant classic when they last met in Boulder two seasons ago. The score was tied 1-1 after two periods, but Colorado scored three goals in a six-minute span, taking a 4-1 lead with 9:42 remaining. The Sooners didn’t blink, scoring twice in the next three minutes before Isaac Bosse tied the game with 45 seconds left. Josh Pusar scored the lone shootout goal to give Oklahoma a 5-4 win.

Missouri State (Nov. 5-6)

Speaking of instant classics, the previous four games between Missouri State and Oklahoma at BIC have all been decided in overtime or a shootout. Two years ago, Paolo De Sousa scored his first goal of the season with 11 seconds left in OT to give the Sooners a 4-3 win. As mentioned previously, Missouri State was the only WCHL team able to play in 2020-21. The Ice Bears went 8-8-2 and earned the No. 12 seed in the ACHA National Tournament. They lost to No. 5 seed Ohio 5-4 in the first round.

McKendree (Nov. 11)

McKendree enters its third season at the Division 1 level following a severely limited 2020-21 campaign. The Bearcats played just 10 regular season games last year, posting a 4-6-0 record. It was enough to earn them the No. 16 seed in the national tournament, where they suffered a 15-1 first round loss to No. 1 seed and eventual champion Adrian. McKendree went 20-6-0 and won the MCH title in its only full D1 season two years ago.

@ Alabama (Nov. 12-13)

The Sooners last visited Alabama to begin the 2018-19 season, winning 3-2 behind a 58-save effort from Phil Babb before losing 4-3 in a shootout the next day. An affinity for crimson isn’t the only thing these teams have in common; both OU head coach Austin Miller and Alabama head coach Phil Tesoriero had what should have been their first season at the helm wiped out by the pandemic.

Colorado (Nov. 19-20)

Oklahoma won 9-1 and 5-3 against Colorado at Blazers Ice Centre two seasons ago. The first result was the Sooners’ largest margin of victory and most goals scored since 2018.

IUP (Dec. 2 & 4)

IUP last took the ice on March 1, 2020, beating Pitt 4-1 to capture the CHMA title and a bid to the national tournament for the first time in program history. The Crimson Hawks were set to travel to Frisco as the No. 19 seed before the tournament was canceled.

@ UCO (Dec. 10), UCO (Dec. 11)

Any longtime OU hockey fan should remember what happened when the Bronchos came to BIC in fall 2019: a Scott Joy goal with 18 seconds left in regulation broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Sooners their first home win over UCO since February 2016. This fall, Oklahoma will host the second game of the (in-conference) series for the first time since the 2017-18 season.

Alabama (Jan. 7-8)

While most OU students enjoy the last two weeks of winter break, the Sooners get back on the ice for a return series against the Frozen Tide. Oklahoma last hosted Alabama in November 2019, winning 4-2 and 6-4.

UCO (Jan. 13)

The Sooners host the second nonconference matchup with UCO to kick off what should be a fun weekend before classes start. Getting dropped off a few days early and taking the family to a game or two while they’re in town seems like a good idea...

Texas A&M (Jan. 14-15)

...especially if they’re longtime Big 12 fans. Oklahoma and Texas A&M have met sporadically on the ice over the past decade, most recently in January 2018. That series marked Phil Babb’s first appearance in goal for OU as the Sooners beat the Division 2 Aggies 14-0 and 11-1 at BIC. Texas A&M’s 2020-21 season lasted about 26 hours; the Aggies played a series with Texas in late April, winning 6-0 and 5-2.

@ Missouri State (Jan. 21-22)

While the Sooners have had great results against the Ice Bears at BIC recently, Jordan Valley Ice Park has been much less kind to them; they’ve gone 1-5-0 there over the past two seasons. Playing without Phil Babb, Oklahoma lost 3-2 and 5-4 in Springfield in February 2020.

Colorado State (Jan. 28-29)

Oklahoma held on for a 4-3 win after taking a 3-0 lead into the third period when the Rams last visited Blazers Ice Centre in January 2020. The Sooners haven’t lost to Colorado State on home ice since October 2016.

Arizona State (Feb. 4-5)

OU swept Arizona State for the first time ever in 2019-20, winning 6-2 and 4-3 at Blazers Ice Centre before winning 3-1 in Tempe a month later. The Sun Devils went on the finish 23-11-1, their best record in three years.

@ Utah (Feb. 11-12)

The Sooners and Utes square off as conference opponents for the first time. Oklahoma last played Utah in February 2019, winning 6-1 and 8-2 at the Salt Lake City Sports Complex. The Utes went 10-18-1 in 2019-20.

UCO (Feb. 18), @ UCO (Feb. 19)

There’s a decent chance the spring edition of OU-UCO could decide the East Division title. The last time the Sooners played UCO to close out the regular season was 2017.

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