Flashback Friday

In the Gopher Hole

Kyle Kinnamon, Staff Writer

Minnesota versus North Dakota. The epitome of college hockey rivalries. It’s one of the most storied and intense rivalries in all of sport.

“This is the biggest rivalry in college hockey,” junior defensemen Hayden Shaw said. “Nothing has changed. If anything, for the fans, it has just been a little long lasting because we do not play them as often. But, when we do get the change to have them (the Gophers) here in the Ralph, our fans will be at the top of their game.”

Shaw, who orignally hails from Minnesota, grew up learning about the rivalry but the competition between these two teams spans further than the midwest.

“Even not being from Minnesota or North Dakota, I grew up hearing about this rivalry,” junior defensemen Christian Wolanin said.

The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers and the University of North Dakota have played each other a total of 293 times, with the Gophers leading the series 147-130-16. UND has only won two of the last 10 meetings between the two historic programs.

While this is the first meeting between the two programs at the Ralph Engelstad Arena since 2012, it is not the first time UND fans got a taste of the storied rivalry.

UND faced off against the Gophers last November in Minnesota, tying the first game but UND was shutout in the second game. That series was the first regular season meeting between the two teams since 2013.

In the 2016 series in Minnesota, Shaw recorded a goal and an assist, and Wolanin registered two assists in the series. UND played a hard-fought game, but they could not get the offense going after the first game in the series. UND can hope to change that in the series at the Ralph.

“Even last year, it was not a home game, but it kind of was for how many fans we had there,” Shaw said. “It always helps seeing the sea of green in the stands.”

“We always feed of the fans, we always feed of the energy,” Wolanin said. “With it being a home game this year, I know it felt like one last year, but for it to actually be a home game. I’m sure it’s going to be crazy.”

The fans have played a major role in the long-standing rivalry of these two programs. UND’s fans have been waiting for this moment for the last five years. The players know what is at stake and know the fans will be ready for an intense series yet again.

“It’s going to be crazy,” Wolanin said. “This is what you play for. This is why you come to school at North Dakota, is for the fans and the energy surrounding it. It happens every weekend, but when the Gophers come to town I’m sure it’s going to be up a notch.”

Many things have changed since their last meeting at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, including nickname, coaches and players. But one thing for sure has not changed: the respect and hatred each program has for the other, from the coaches and players down to the fans.

Kyle Kinnamon is a staff writer for Dakota Student. He can be reached at 

[email protected]