April 9th, 2016. North Dakota wins its eighth national title, ending a streak of fifteen seasons without a national championship (UND’s seventh NCAA title came in 2000). During that long dry spell (2001-2015), the Green and White advanced to eight Frozen Fours with two runner-up finishes.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers have a current stretch of sixteen seasons since that program’s fifth college hockey crown (2003). Before Don Lucia led the Maroon and Gold to back-to-back titles (2002, 2003), it had been 22 years since Minnesota was on top of the college hockey world (1979).
This week’s non-conference series is vitally important for the postseason aspirations of both squads. Unranked Minnesota (5-6-3) competes in the seven-team Big Ten Conference against #5 Notre Dame, #7 Penn State, #11 Ohio State, #19 Wisconsin, #20 Michigan State, and Michigan, and with league victories hard to come by, quality non-conference wins might be necessary for the Gophers to advance to the 16-team national tournament after missing out on the NCAAs the past two seasons.
#3 North Dakota (10-1-2) also failed to advance to the national stage after each of the past two campaigns, snapping a streak of fifteen consecutive tourney appearances. The eight-team NCHC, also home to #4 Denver, #8 Minnesota Duluth, #17 Western Michigan, and #18 Omaha (among others), lays claim to the last four national championships (North Dakota in 2016, Denver in 2017, and Minnesota Duluth in 2018 and 2019). So far this season, UND has a non-conference record of 5-1-1, with only a January home series against Alabama Huntsville remaining outside of NCHC play.
With only a few short hours remaining until the Fighting Hawks and Golden Gophers square off in Minneapolis, here’s a look back at how North Dakota and Minnesota collected their thirteen combined NCAA titles:
1959 – North Dakota’s 1st NCAA title (head coach Bob May):
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 Janaszak was 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.
2016 – North Dakota’s 8th NCAA title (head coach Brad Berry):
North Dakota 6, Northeastern 2 (Cincinnati, OH)
North Dakota 5, Michigan 2 (Cincinnati, OH)
North Dakota 4, Denver 2 (Tampa, FL)
North Dakota 5, Quinnipiac 1 (Tampa, FL)
UND defeated the nation’s hottest team (Northeastern, 20-1-2 in their last 23 games coming into the NCAA tournament), the nation’s best line (Michigan’s “CCM” line of Kyle Connor, JT Compher, and Tyler Motte, a combined 83 goals and 107 assists in 2015-16), a bitter conference rival (Denver University), and the nation’s #1 team (Quinnipiac, 32-4-7 on the season) on the way to the title. North Dakota’s Drake Caggiula was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
North Dakota is tied with Denver for second place on the all-time national championship list (8 each), one behind Michigan’s nine titles. It is worth mentioning, however, that seven of Michigan’s NCAA championships were earned in the first seventeen years of that trophy’s existence (1948-1964), with only two titles since then (1996 and 1998).
As always, thank you for reading. I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions. Follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and insight. Here’s to hockey!