Sioux/Gopher Week: Hockey Rivalries

Which team do you consider North Dakota’s biggest rival?

I have Minnesota at the top of my list, along with Boston College, Denver, Michigan and Wisconsin.

And what makes some rivalries so intense? For some of the above-mentioned schools, it’s conference affiliation. Minnesota, Denver, and Wisconsin are among the top teams battling it out with North Dakota for the WCHA title year after year. Familiarity breeds contempt, they say.

But why else? Why are Boston College and Michigan on my list? And why has Denver become such a bitter feud while Wisconsin, until this year, has cooled a bit? It all boils down to tournament time.

Since 1997, UND has met 12 different teams in NCAA action, and of those twelve, only four (Michigan, Boston College, Ferris State, and Denver) have ended North Dakota’s season. The Fighting Sioux avenged a loss to Michigan in 1998 with playoff wins in 2006 and 2007, while Denver has had UND’s number, defeating the Sioux in 2004 and 2005. Ferris State bounced North Dakota from the 2003 tournament, and the six tournament games between Boston College and UND (1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, and 2007) are well-documented.

The teams UND has defeated in NCAA play in that same span include Cornell (1997), Colorado College (1997, 2001), Boston University (1997, 2005), Niagara (2000), Maine (2000), Michigan State (2001), and Holy Cross (2004, 2006). These rivalries are not as intense as the schools listed above, and it is my opinion that it is because these schools have not ended UND’s season on the biggest stage that they are not regarded as such.

Wisconsin and North Dakota have not met in the national tournament since the 1982 title game.

And that leaves us with Minnesota. The 1979 title game between North Dakota and Minnesota, which Minnesota won 4-3, would set off a 25 year span (1980-2004) during which the two schools would not meet in the NCAA tournament. That’s astounding. During that time, Minnesota advanced to the national tournament 20 times (winning titles in 2002 and 2003), and North Dakota advanced to the national tournament 12 times (winning titles in 1980, 1982, 1987, 1997, and 2000), and yet they never played each other.

North Dakota has somewhat atoned for the 1979 title game loss with NCAA victories over Minnesota in 2005 and 2007.

Why, for those 25 years, did the two fan bases continue to circle Sioux/Gopher weekend on their calendars? What was it (or more to the point, what is it) about these two programs that causes every regular season matchup to feel like a playoff game and every WCHA Final Five tilt to feel like the Super Bowl? And that’s saying nothing about my heart rate during overtime of the 2007 West Regional Final or the 2005 Frozen Four Semifinal.

What do you think? I’d like to hear your thoughts. Your stories. Your memories of the Sioux/Gopher rivalry. Please leave comments about your favorite games and ones you’d like to forget. It’s your turn. It’s your time. It’s Sioux/Gopher week.

 For a preview of the weekend series between North Dakota and Minnesota, click here.

13 thoughts on “Sioux/Gopher Week: Hockey Rivalries”

  1. The arrogance of the fans. the jersey tug. Holy Cross. Being Born to Hate the Gophers. Always cheering against them when they are on TV. They always get the night games at the final five. The obvious reffing and Parise getting robbed of Rookie of the year. Those are the ones that come to mind.

  2. Proximity. UM is the closest elite team to UND. Going to games in Grand Forks, you would see tons of Gopher fans, and that always makes for a heated atmosphere.

    Plus, the hometown advantage UM is gifted every year for the WCHA tournament. That makes lots of UND fans angry.

    And the homer refereeing in their barn. And the “you can’t check me, I’m part of The Country Club” attitude many of their players take.

  3. From the maroon and gold side of things-I’ve come to love the intensity of this rivalry and put this matchup at the top of all rivalries in college sports today.

    The question I would like to ask, is why has the rivalry turned into a shouting match between both fan bases, and why does it not focus directly on the game of hockey (i.e. players, talent)?

    Arrogant fans-where is the concrete example of this?

    “I’m Part of the country club player attitude”? what example backs this up?

    gopher fans are arrogant- sioux fans are cry babies about the league officiating.

    Holy Cross? Ferris State?

    Blarney’s? Judy’s?

    Hirsch? Bochenski?

    Isn’t everything really just the same on both sides when you think of it that way?

  4. While I appreciate your sentiments, hoop, and while I also wish more of the talk between the fans would be about the game, you ruined that with your bogus analogies.

    First, UND’s loss to Ferris State doesn’t begin to approach the historic upset of Minnesota by Holy Cross. Ferris State was the CCHA regular season champ in 02-03.

    Second, while the Judy’s incident was indeed bad for UND, Blarney’s was worse for Minnesota.

    Hirsch had his problems while he was a student at Minnesota and while playing under tutelage of Lucia. Bochenski ran into problems with the law before he got to UND and kept his nose clean during his three years here.

    That’s not to say that Sioux players are angels while Gopher players are scum, but you could have helped your case more by making legitimate apple-to-apple comparisons. On the other hand, maybe you’ve successfully demonstrated why it is that fan bases from both teams stay at each others’ throats.

  5. Fair Enough, I guess you are able to get the rise you wish out of gophers fans by bringing up the Holy Cross loss, and that brings some of your followers enjoyment. I do find it bizzarre that it has been taken to the extreme of purchasing jerseys, shirts, etc, and how that is above another fan base being “arrogant”.

    Let’s also remember with Blarney’s that no one was fleeing police and there were no court dates for those invovled. So I would argue that these incidents were both equally embarassing.

    From my experience, it doesn’t take much to for a gophers fan to rib a sioux fan-given by how much the jersey popping seems to bother you and how well discussed WCHA officiating is discusssed on your site.

    I guess at the end of the day, it comes down to one thing at the end of the day-the scoreboard. Bringing up what happened in a Regional tourney 3 years ago can’t erase what’s up on the scoreboard when the buzzer rings at the end of the night on any given day/place

  6. Hoop, you don’t even have your facts right. In the Judy’s incident, nobody fled the police. Bina was charged with escape for opening a police car door and found *not* guilty of that offense.

    So there were two players who pleaded guilty for being a minor in a bar and that was it. Big deal. There was no multi-part, hidden- camera expose on TV showing players repeatedly violating team rules, NCAA rules and city laws.

    Was Judy’s embarrassing for UND’s hockey program? Sure it was. Was it as big a deal as you make it out to be? No, it wasn’t. Only by mangling the facts can you inflate it into a “Cops!” episode. However, Sioux fans who bring up Blarney’s should expect to have Judy’s to be thrown back at them.

    I certainly understand why Gopher fans are tired of hearing about Holy Cross. But I still remember when one or more Gopher fans shut down a UND fan site by repeatedly flooding it with “choker” posts after a great Sioux team was bounced out of the playoffs.

    The important thing for fans of both teams to remember is that what goes around, comes around. If you can’t take it, then don’t dish it out.

    Neither Gopher fans nor Sioux fans ever seem to understand why their bad behavior is met by equally bad behavior from the other side. They always think that what they did was “good clean fun” while what the other side did was “classless.” Fans of both teams need to take a long look in the mirror and stop blaming each other for what they do.

    I doubt that will ever happen, but a guy can dream.

  7. I readily admit that the “country club” comment was a jab at the program. However, this is not a fan vs fan item, and so does not fit into Hoop’s point very well.

    Rather, it speaks of players that I have directly observed get visibly offended when a UND team plays them more physically than they would like. Thus, the perception (albeit over-simplified)that UM’s program wants to play no-checking hockey. And, the “country club” reference comes from the Woog era, when UM’s fan base grew restless with the teams’ performance in the playoffs.

    Lucia has changed some of that, but some of the rivalry was clearly built during that era, and the attitudes of fans change more slowly than the turnover of coaches and players.

    This is a Sioux fan website. You have to expect a light jab or two in the fan comment area. After all, it is a big rivalry.

  8. I hate the way you steal all of our home grown talent. The fact that Blais turn-coated way before the Potulny’s figured out where the real “State of Hockey” was. Your “You sit” penalty cheer is about as dumb as they come. Your fan’s lack of general hockey knowledge. Your no-atmosphere $100M waste of good casino/mob money on the prairie. The list goes on…

    But let’s face it, there wouldn’t be a rivalry if you weren’t a great hockey team. I have to admit that Oshie, Toews, and Duncan were the best line in college hockey last year.

    It doesn’t change the fact that I hate you. Haha, bring on the weekend! Is it 7:30 yet??

  9. Go4er, your comments ooze of jealousy and bitterness (“your no-atmosphere $100M wast of good casino/mob money on the prairie…”). I can understand taking jabs like this (both teams’ fans do it all the time and we could
    spar all day long but to say that Sioux fans have a lack of general hockey knowlege, are you kidding me?!?! If you want to see a real lack of hockey
    knowledge c’mon down to Colorado Springs or Denver. I can say this as a CC alum that CC’s fan’s are the dumbest of them all! Anytime a CC player gets breathed on or trips on the blue line, the fans cry for a penalty. As for DU, their fans are the biggest bunch of band wagon fans around; when they won those championships, everyone in town claimed to be a hard core DU fan; now, its back to half empty barns when teams like UND, Minny, Wisco come to town. Heck, the Sioux fans were louder than the DU fans last weekend.

  10. I will concede that UND probably has a much better grasp of the game than DU or CC, but I would still wager that 80% of Sioux fans couldn’t even tell me who Tony Hrkac was or how to indicate icing.

    Since the thread is about great memories of Sioux/Gophers rivalry games, I will share one of my favorites: When I was up in GF for the series two years ago (Irmen flashed the M after his goal), donning my maroon and gold in your student section, a loyal Sioux fan doused me with beer without saying anything to me (I think it was in good humor). Because he “unfortunately” lost his beer all over me, I proceeded to buy him one shortly after a Gophers PP goal. You know…to console him.

    Still looking forward to tonight…keep the jabs coming!

  11. That’s an awesome story Go4er! I guess what bugs me is I have been going to Sioux games since I was in diapers (and hopefully I’ll live long enough to continue to go to Sioux games when I return to wearing them!) and once the puck dropped, fans would shut up and watch the game, only commenting on the action on the ice.

    I go to enough CC or DU games to constantly listen to idiots behind me talk about shopping, skiing, anything un-related to the game on the ice. Shut up and watch the damn game!

    I still remember the brawl between UND and Minnesota players way back in the early 80’s when we had the low glass. During the warmups, the Sioux fans would yell “sieve” at the Gopher goalie everytime he let in a puck and boo everytime he made a save. After a while it got to him so much that he and his team mates climbed the boards and started fighting with the Sioux fans in the student section! It was wild! I must have been about 5 or 6 years old. I’d put that brawl up there with the famous “water bottle” fight between Wisco and UND.

  12. Oh yah Go4er, to prove to you that we NoDaks know a thing or two about hockey, here are the answers to your questions:

    a) icing is that stuff that goes on cake.

    b) Hrkac is the guy who knocked up the St. Louis Blues owner’s daughter. He’s also the guy that got into a fist fight with Gino Gasparini.


  13. Umm go4er, do you even know why grant p. went to U of M?? The sioux didn’t even offer him a scholarship so he left to U of M. I’m not sure why we didn’t, he’s a solid player… Then Rypo followed him… We should’ve been smart enough to bring in Grant just so we could get Ryan….

    Btw, when your facts are wrong on what took place outside of Judy’s…Not only that, Bochenski wasn’t even at UND when he was caught printing money..

    You should check out Hagemo….He enjoys his meth 🙂

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