(Photo Credit: Caufield Studios)
Back in August of 2013, I interviewed a couple of former Gopher hockey players about their rivalry with the University of North Dakota and what it was like playing in the old Ralph Engelstad Arena. I think you’ll like their answers.
I asked my brother-in-law, former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher hockey forward Andy Brink (Alma Mater, UMN 1992-96), and this is what he had to say about playing in the old Engelstad Arena.
“Engelstad [Arena] was special to me because I grew up a Sioux fan and loved going to the games as a fan growing up,” Brink said. “Then playing for the Gophers it had a much different feel. It was intimidating at first. The ice was really good and the rink seemed small. The rink seemed old even when I was playing (92-96). It was always fun to go play there because of the history of great teams at UND; you knew you were going to a building with tradition. But you were also very happy to leave and go home.”
Former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher forward Pat Micheletti (Alma Mater, UMN 1982-86) had this to say about playing in the old Engelstad Arena.
“The first time I played in the Ralph, it was for the WCHA Championship,” Micheletti said. “If we sweep them, we [Gophers] win. We had to sweep. If they [UND] split with us, they win. First time in- it was a crazy series – I am a freshman. In the old Ralph, the locker rooms were right below the [student] bleachers. They let the students in early and I think they got in free at the time with their card. It only sat about 5500 or 6,000, or something like that. I got scared to death when they let them in. It was my first game there. When I heard those people, it was like a stampede going over our locker room. It was like, what are we in for? We swept the series, by the way, which was great. But it was an intense, beautiful, atmosphere to play in.
“The one thing that I respected about North Dakota was the fact there was a lot of Minnesota and a lot of Canadian guys. But they played with an edge. They were out there to win. There was no hi, talk to you later. When you were on the ice, it was intense as I ever played, ever. There was no bubby, buddy situation. But, you know half of those guys, guys like Jim Archibald, who was a teammate of mine later on in life, and James Patrick, and Gordon Sherven. You talk Scott Sandelin, who I grew up with. We hated each other when we were on the ice. But it was a healthy hatred.”