Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State have shuffled the dates and locations of their two upcoming NCHC series during the first two weeks of January.

The Bulldogs and Huskies — who begin the new year playing four games against each other — will now open the second phase of the 2020-21 season on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 2-3, at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud. Games 3 and 4, scheduled for Friday, Jan. 8 and Saturday Jan. 9, will be played at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.

Saturday's game in St. Cloud is scheduled for 6 p.m. and Sunday's game is scheduled for 4 p.m. On Jan. 8, the teams will play at 7:30 p.m. and at 6 p.m. Jan. 9 at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.

UMD and SCSU were originally scheduled to open the second phase of 2020-21 on New Year’s Day in St. Cloud followed by a rematch on Jan. 2 in Duluth. Both series were originally home-and-home series.

St. Cloud State goaltender David Hrenak (34) saves a shot on goal by Denver forward Hank Crone (37) in the first period Sunday, Dec. 20, at Baxter Arena in the NCHC Pod in Omaha. Tyler Schank / The Rink Live
St. Cloud State goaltender David Hrenak (34) saves a shot on goal by Denver forward Hank Crone (37) in the first period Sunday, Dec. 20, at Baxter Arena in the NCHC Pod in Omaha. Tyler Schank / The Rink Live

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The Feb. 26-27 series between the Bulldogs and Huskies remains a home-and-home series to cap the regular season.

In an effort to limit travel while playing a season during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020-21 NCHC schedule has the league’s rivalry partners playing each other six times this season. All of those games between rivalry partners take place during the first two weeks of the second phase and on the final weekend of the regular season.

The Bulldogs and Huskies currently sit tied for third in the NCHC at 18 points after the first phase of the season was played in the Pod in Omaha, Nebraska. UMD and SCSU only played nine games in Omaha, while second place Nebraska Omaha (19 points) and league-leading North Dakota (20 points) played 10 games.

NCHC eliminates three-game series

The NCHC announced another change to the second phase of the schedule on Monday that will reduce the number of league games from 26 to 24 games in 2020-21.

The league reduced all three-game weekend series down to two games. The Bulldogs were scheduled to play Western Michigan six times in the second phase, playing each other three times over four days Jan. 21-24 in Duluth and Feb. 11-14 in Kalamazoo, Mich. Those series will now be two games each Jan. 22-23 in Duluth and Feb. 12-13 in Kalamazoo.

In its release, the league cited health and safety as the reason for the elimination of the three-game series.

"The changes were made related to challenges with COVID-19 testing during the three-game series weeks, mitigating risk to COVID-19 by lessening team travel, and the desire to alleviate time away from each member institution’s campus," the league wrote.

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This story was updated at 4:15 p.m. on Dec. 28, 2020 with the NCHC announcing the reduction of the schedule and elimination of three-game series. It was originally posted at 11:04 a.m., Dec. 28, 2020.