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Western Michigan announces full hockey schedule for 2016-17

The Western Michigan Broncos had a rough 2015-16 campaign. As the summer approaches, the Broncos announced a fun non-conference schedule today to complement an always difficult NCHC slate.

WMU Media File/GS Photo

The Western Michigan Broncos flat out stunk last year.  Behind a young core, the defense struggled en route to a 8-25-3 record, a 7th place finish in the NCHC, and -62 goal differential.  However, where there's shortcomings, there's room for improvement, and Andy Murray looks to build on that core to get back into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012's CCHA Championship.

To do that, they have to get through a schedule that'll include four games against the defending National Champions - North Dakota - four more games against Frozen Four participant Denver, and two more against St. Cloud State, who finished 5th in the final USCHO.com Poll.  Those 10 games comprise nearly a third of the 34 game regular season, and just under half of the conference slate.

However, in the non-conference schedule, fans have to be stoked with what the Broncos announced on Wednesday. To open the year, Western Michigan faces former CCHA rivals Ferris State and Bowling Green in back-to-back home-and-home series.  A month later, they host Air Force for Military Appreciation Weekend, a solid move right before the start of the holiday season.  They also are set to make their return to the Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena in their first appearance since winning the 2013 GLI Title at Comerica Park.  Lastly, they'll host NCAA newcomer Arizona State in early February to get a reprieve from the NCHC gauntlet.

Personally, this is one of the most fun non-conference schedules WMU could've put together.  Having Ferris State and Bowling Green back-to-back to open the year is always fun.  Heading back to the GLI should be a great experience in the last year of Joe Louis Arena's existence.  Oh, and Arizona State and Air Force are each fun series in their own right.  Solid, solid schedule.

Full schedule can be found here