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Are the Gophers UND’s Biggest Rival?

UND Hockey (Photo Credit: Russell Hons)

The University of North Dakota hasn’t played the University of Minnesota at the Ralph Engelstad Arena since the 2011-12 season. Thankfully, fans will finally get a chance to see the two teams play at the Ralph on October 20-21, 2017. The good news, the two teams have agreed to renew the rivalry and will play each other every year for the next six years.

Those wanting to attend the series are going to fork over the dough if they want to see the games in person. According to Brad E. Schlossman, single game tickets for the Gopher series are selling for $99.00 a ticket. Seriously, that not a misprint. It’s about supply and demand.

For comparison sake, the cheapest price for a UND football season ticket package is $80.00. I have no problem with this. The economics of Division I hockey are different. A high profile hockey game/series can raise the price of individual ticket substantially. I can only imagine that tickets for the UND vs. UMN series will probably command a much higher price on StubHub as we get closer to the series. I wouldn’t be surprised to see single games tickets going for $300.00 or more.

Series History

All-Time, UND is 130-140-16 (.482) against the Gophers. Since the realignment, UND has played the Gophers a grand total of three times. UND is winless in those three games against the Gophers 0-2-1 (.166). Over the last 10 games, the Gophers have had the upper hand against UND, going 6-2-2 (.700).

Who is UND’s top rival?

Historically, UND’s top rivals have been Minnesota, Wisconsin and then probably Denver. Since the latest round of college hockey realignment (not counting Notre Dame going to the Big Ten), UND hasn’t played their top-two traditional rivals on a yearly basis.

When UND moved to the NCHC, they still had Denver on their schedule every year. Maybe I am biased, but every game against Denver has been highly contested. The two teams hate each other, but there’s a mutual respect. In the past, I’ve compared the DU vs. UND series as college hockey’s version of the Hatfield–McCoy feud. With each game, the rivalry gets more intense.

Since the inception of the NCHC, UND has a 7-6-3 (.531) record against Denver. During that same time frame, UND also has a 2-1-1 record against Denver in the postseason (NCHC and NCAA). This includes a 4-2 win against Denver in the 2016 Frozen Four semi-finals.

My question, is Minnesota still UND’s top rival? Is so, why? I think that one could argue that Denver is UND’s biggest rival. Last season, in three games between the Pioneers and Fighting Hawks the cumulative score of all three games was 4-4. The series record was 1-1-1 (.500). Each team’s margin of victory was one-goal.



5 thoughts on “Are the Gophers UND’s Biggest Rival?

  1. For the players, it may be Denver. But for the fans, the goophers are still the biggest rival. Denver doesn’t have any fans, so it’s difficult to really get any off-ice hate going.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great article, Goon. As a Denver fan, I couldn’t agree with you more. UND is certainly the one opponent that Denver’s players most look forward to on the schedule, as it is the true test of how good either team is at that moment, especially now that Berry and Monty both have their teams really focused on playing the best hockey they can play.

    Denver does have some fans, but as a small private school in an oversaturated sports market with eight pro teams and four larger D-I schools within an hour of its campus, and lots of other distractions like ski areas and a big metro area of 2.5 million, it will never have a fan base like UND, which is a state flagship school without a lot of competition for eyeballs in Grand Forks.

    Unlike the UND fanbase, most DU fans did not grow up in Denver, either, so the family allegiance level is not the same as it is in the upper midwest, where most families have been there for generations. Denver is a transient place, where the newcomers keep their old allegiances from where they came from -which is why UND draws so well out here. Most of those UND fans live in Denver, but stay UND fans.

    DU has a very similar hockey attendance levels to BU and BC, two larger private schools who also play in an oversaturated Boston market.

    Liked by 1 person

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