Fan involvement a priority for UND

Women’s hockey breaks attendance record.

The Ralph might not play host to weekly three-goal nights for the Lamoureux twins anymore, but it’s long past its 0-27-1 conference record set during the 2006-07 season.

The No. 3/4 UND women’s hockey team played host to No. 1 Minnesota this past weekend at Ralph Engelstad Arena and forced the building to open the upper bowl, as 5,835 fans filed in to watch the game.

The record-setting number of fans crushed the previous attendance record of 3,200, which was set in Oct. 2002.

So, why the inconsistency?

Yes, the rivalry should be a reason to elevate the atmosphere level. But it also shows how much could be lacking from other matchups.

When Brian Idalski was hired as UND’s women’s hockey head coach in 2007, he used his first season to compile a 4-24-6 overall record, drawing an average of 374 fans per game. The team improved to 12-19-4 overall the next season and eventually finished the 2012-13 season with a 26-12-1 overall record that ended in a triple-overtime game against the Gophers in the NCAA quarterfinals.

The team has consistently shown improvement, but what’s still lacking is attendance. It’s been a continuous conversation with not much reaction.

Props to North Dakota for coming in at No. 4 of 36 teams during the 2012-13 season with an average 1,223 fans per game. But with an 11,634 capacity arena, there’s room for improvement — about 10,000 seats worth of room.

These seats could be filled by fans who might not realize the level of competition the women’s hockey team adds to this university.

Tickets are free for students. Try it out. UND has a handful of players from the women’s hockey team who currently are preparing to compete in the highest level of competition in the world — the Olympics — so who can say watching a women’s game is boring?

If you went to the Minnesota game and saw the atmosphere, I urge you continue filling the Ralph, because I hope you want to experience that pride more than one night each season.

Elizabeth Erickson is the sports editor for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].