"To be the best, you have to beat the best." There's a lot of truth in that, and the Western Michigan Bronco hockey team will be living that cliche this upcoming season. On top of having having to play defending national champions Minnesota-Duluth and the other powers in their own conference, the NCHC, add these teams to strenght of schedule rankings.

"Home-and-home series with Bowling Green, Michigan, Ferris State and Notre Dame highlight the schedule. The Broncos also host RPI on Feb. 7-8 to wrap up the non-conference schedule for the season." - WMU

"We've got a great non-conference schedule this season," said Murray. "It's a tough one that will get us ready for play in the NCHC."

Here's how it lines up.

After opening with an exhibition game against a yet to be determined Canadian college team, WMU then then opens the regular season at the Ice Breaker Tournament at the Huntington Center in Toledo. The Broncos open the tournament against Ohio State on Oct. 11 and then will play hosts Bowling Green or RIT on Oct. 12.

The following week the Broncos and Falcons meet for a home-and-home series, with WMU on the road on Oct. 18 and at Lawson for the regular season home-opener on Oct. 19. WMU continues non-conference play with a home-and-home with the Wolverines. Western Michigan travels to Yost Arena on Friday, Oct. 25 before hosting the Maize and Blue on Saturday, Oct. 26. After a trip to Colorado College the Broncos resume their rivalry with the Bulldogs, hosting FSU on Nov. 8 before traveling up interstate 131 to take on Ferris State on Saturday, Nov. 9.

WMU doesn't paly in a holiday tournament this year, but right after New Year's Day, Western will host Notre Dame.  Fighting Irish and the Broncos meet for the first time since the 2015-16 season on Jan. 3 in South Bend. Then, Notre Dame heads for Lawson Ice Arena  for a rare Sunday date, on Jan. 5 at 5 p.m.

"We wanted to make sure we had a great crowd for Notre Dame," said Murray. "Having it on that Sunday allows our students to get back from break and cheer us on."

WMU then closes out the non-conference schedule hosting another traditional national power, RPI, on Feb. 7-8..