Beginning with the 2002-03 season, the WCHA changed its schedule rotation, creating “rivals” which would play each other four times each season. St. Cloud State and North Dakota were partnered up in a scheduling system that ended in 2009-10.
Last season, even though the WCHA expanded to 12 teams (adding Bemidji State and Nebraska-Omaha) and implemented a new rotating schedule, UND and SCSU continue to play four games each season. For a complete look at how the the WCHA schedule works, click here.
And it’s safe to say that as members of the new eight-team National Collegiate Hockey Conference (which begins play in 2013-2014), North Dakota and St. Cloud State will continue to play four regular season games each year.
Over the past eight seasons, the fans have made their mark on the partnership between the schools. The UND/SCSU rivalry has a commemorative fan trophy, thanks to the Center Ice Club at St. Cloud State University:
The UND/SCSU Challenge Cup is awarded to the team which collects more points in the four regular-season games. As you may be able to see in the photo above, the winning team is engraved for each year. UND won the Challenge Cup in 2005, going 3-0-1 against the Huskies. St. Cloud took the trophy back in 2006, sporting a record of 3-1-0 against North Dakota. In 2007, the Sioux won two games and tied the other two, collecting six points and the Challenge Cup. The next season, the teams shared the Cup, with UND and SCSU each winning one game and tying the other two. In 2009, North Dakota sprinted to the lead in the Challenge Cup race by winning both games in Grand Forks but needed a Saturday victory in St. Cloud to salvage a split on the weekend and reclaim the Cup. The next season (2009-10), both series were splits, and the Challenge Cup was shared once again.
Last year, North Dakota swept the early December series in Grand Forks and earned a win and a tie at St. Cloud in February, outscoring the Huskies by a combined 15-8.
If you’re keeping track at home, UND has won the Cup four times, St. Cloud has claimed the Cup once, and the schools have shared the Challenge Cup twice. No school has ever swept the four game season series.
In the first two games of this season’s series, the teams split two games at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks. The Huskies blanked UND in the opener, 4-0, and North Dakota took the rematch by a final of 3-1. The win kept UND from starting the WCHA season with four consecutive losses for the first time in school history.
The Challenge Cup will be on display at the Center Ice Club pre-game social this Saturday, January 21st from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Legends Bar inside the Holiday Inn (Division Street and 37th Avenue) in St. Cloud. This is a great opportunity to meet fans on both sides of this hockey rivalry. There will be complimentary food and door prizes. The event is free and open to all fans 21 and older.
Please check back for a complete preview of this weekend’s series. We hope to see you at Saturday’s fan social. Here’s to hockey!