Minnesota and North Dakota: A Look Back At 12 Titles

Now that North Dakota and Minnesota’s most recent titles are more than a decade old, Thursday’s matchup takes on new meaning. If the Gophers beat UND and go on to win the 2014 NCAA title, fans of that program would claim three championships (2002, 2003, 2014) since the last time the Green and White were on top of the college hockey world (1997, 2000).

On the other hand, if Dave Hakstol can get the monkey off his back and win North Dakota’s eighth national championship overall, it would put more distance between these border rivals, since everyone knows that 8 > 5 is greater than 7 > 5.

One thing is for certain – Thursday’s losing side will have a difficult time cheering for the winner in Saturday’s final, since neither fan base wants to give any ground to the other in the battle for bragging rights. It would be one thing to watch Boston College win another title or watch Union win its first, since there aren’t many supporters of those programs in the upper Midwest. It’s yet another for fans to watch their fiercest rival hoist the trophy that they so desperately wanted their team to win, particularly when that trophy will be proudly displayed and used as ammunition in the bragging rights battle for the next decade and beyond.

Here’s a look back at how North Dakota and Minnesota collected their twelve combined NCAA titles:

1959 – North Dakota’s 1st NCAA title (head coach Barry Thorndycraft):

North Dakota 4, St. Lawrence 3 in OT (Troy, NY)
North Dakota 4, Michigan State 3 in OT (Troy, NY)

Incidentally, Boston College beat St. Lawrence 7-6 in double overtime for third place. UND’s Reg Morelli was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

1963 – North Dakota’s 2nd NCAA title (head coach Barry Thorndycraft)

North Dakota 8, Boston College 2 (Chestnut Hill, MA)
North Dakota 6, Denver 5 (Chestnut Hill, MA)

UND’s Al McLean was chosen as Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. Boston College lost the third place game to Clarkson, 5-3, going 0-2 on home ice.

1974 – Minnesota’s 1st NCAA title (head coach Herb Brooks):

Minnesota 5, Boston University 4 (Boston, MA)
Minnesota 4, Michigan Tech 2 (Boston, MA)

The games were played at the Boston Garden. U of M goaltender Brad Shelstad was the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player.

1976 – Minnesota’s 2nd NCAA title (head coach Herb Brooks):

Minnesota 4, Boston University 2 (Denver, CO)
Minnesota 6, Michigan Tech 4 (Denver, CO)

Michigan Tech went to double overtime to defeat Brown 7-6 in the semifinals. Minnesota’s Tom Vannelli was named the Most Outstanding Player.

1979 – Minnesota’s 3rd NCAA title (head coach Herb Brooks):

Minnesota 6, Bowling Green 3
Minnesota 4, New Hampshire 3 (Detroit, MI)
Minnesota 4, North Dakota 3 (Detroit, MI)

Golden Gopher Steve Janaszakwas named Most Outstanding Player, but most fans on both sides of the rivalry will remember Neal Broten‘s game winning goal over North Dakota in the title game.

1980 – North Dakota’s 3rd NCAA title (head coach Gino Gasparini):

North Dakota 4, Dartmouth 1 (Providence, RI)
North Dakota 5, Northern Michigan 2 (Providence, RI)

UND fans were hoping for a rematch, but Minnesota fell to Northern Michigan 4-3 in the NCAA quarterfinals. North Dakota’s Doug Smail was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

1982 – North Dakota’s 4th NCAA title (head coach Gino Gasparini):

North Dakota 5, Clarkson 1; North Dakota 2, Clarkson 1 (UND wins total goals, 7-2)
North Dakota 6, Northeastern 2 (Providence, RI)
North Dakota 5, Wisconsin 2 (Providence, RI)

Wisconsin had outscored opponents 15-7 heading into the championship game. Fighting Sioux forward Phil Sykes was tabbed as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

1987 – North Dakota’s 5th NCAA title (head coach Gino Gasparini):

North Dakota 3, St. Lawrence 1; North Dakota 6, St. Lawrence 3 (UND wins totals, 9-4)
North Dakota 5, Harvard 2 (Detroit, MI)
North Dakota 5, Michigan State 3 (Detroit, MI)

Minnesota fell 5-3 to Michigan State in the semifinals. As predicted, Tony Hrkac was named Most Outstanding Player one day after winning UND’s first Hobey Baker award.

1997 – North Dakota’s 6th NCAA title (head coach Dean Blais):

North Dakota 6, Cornell 2 (Grand Rapids, MI)
North Dakota 6, Colorado College 2 (Milwaukee, WI)
North Dakota 6, Boston University 4 (Milwaukee, WI)

Minnesota fell to juggernaut Michigan 7-4 in the West Regional. The Wolverines, who had lost only three games all season, were upended 3-2 by Boston University at the Frozen Four. UND’s Matt Henderson was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

2000 – North Dakota’s 7th NCAA title (head coach Dean Blais):

North Dakota 4, Niagara 1 (Minneapolis, MN)
North Dakota 2, Maine 0 (Providence, RI)
North Dakota 4, Boston College 2 (Providence, RI)

Boston College knocked off top-seeded Wisconsin in the West Regional to advance to the Frozen Four. Lee “Scorin’” Goren was named the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player.

2002 – Minnesota’s 4th NCAA title (head coach Don Lucia):

Minnesota 4, Colorado College 2 (Ann Arbor, MI)
Minnesota 3, Michigan 2 (St. Paul, MN)
Minnesota 4, Maine 3 in OT (St. Paul, MN)

It took overtime, but the Gophers erased 22 years of frustration with one goal. Grant Potulny, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, scored the overtime winner after Minnesota needed an extra-attacker goal late in the third period to force the extra session.

2003 – Minnesota’s 5th NCAA title (head coach Don Lucia):

Minnesota 9, Mercyhurst 2 (Minneapolis, MN)
Minnesota 7, Ferris State 4 (Minneapolis, MN)
Minnesota 3, Michigan 2 in OT (Buffalo, NY)
Minnesota 5, New Hampshire 1 (Buffalo, NY)

The Golden Gophers became the first team to go back-to-back since Boston University (1971, 1972). Minnesota’s Thomas Vanek was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

Both programs desperately want to add another championship to their storied history, but just one of these teams will have a shot at another NCAA title on Saturday night. The losing team will be left hoping that their rival doesn’t hang another banner in the ultimate battle for bragging rights.

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