With college hockey’s realignment, some historic rivalries were put on the back burner. Over the past three seasons, the University of North Dakota and the Minnesota Golden Gophers have played a grand total of one time.
That’s about to change.
Starting next season, the Golden Gophers and the Fighting Hawks will resume their historic rivalry when the two teams play at Mariucci Arena on November 4-5, 2017. Fans of both programs will be pleased to know that the two teams signed a four-year agreement starting in 2019-20 to play a yearly two-game, non-conference series at rotating sites. Finally, the great news. Starting with this season, the two teams will play each other every year for the next seven seasons.
Now, for the best news of all. The two college hockey heavyweights will be taking their show on the road. On October 27, 2018, the Gophers and the Fighting Hawks will play in the Hall of Fame Game at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The announcement was made on Wednesday at a joint news conference at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“It doesn’t get much better than this: a classic college hockey match-up between North Dakota and Minnesota in Las Vegas. What a great destination for our alumni and fans,” said UND Athletics Director Brian Faison. “And, thank you to the Ralph Engelstad Arena and the Orleans Arena for their partnership with UND in bringing the 2018 Hall of Fame Game to Las Vegas. We couldn’t do it without their support.”
We are always interested in providing new and exciting experiences for our student-athletes and fans, and bringing one of college hockey’s best rivalries to Las Vegas certainly fits the bill,” Minnesota Director of Athletics Mark Coyle said. “With these two programs facing off, you know you’re going to get a great game, and the University of Minnesota is excited to participate in a memorable event at Orleans Arena.”
Both head coaches are excited about the upcoming event.
“This is both a great experience for our student-athletes and an opportunity to grow the game in a non-traditional college hockey market,” Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said. “Taking our rivalry with North Dakota to Las Vegas will be great for both programs, our fans and college hockey, and we are certainly looking forward to it.”
“We are extremely excited to be a part of a great college hockey marquee event,” said UND head coach Brad Berry. “This showcase game will give our players and our loyal fans an unforgettable experience and will hopefully continue to grow Division I hockey in the western United States, growth we’ve most recently seen with the NHL’s expansion into the great city of Las Vegas.”
According to the official UND website, tickets for this event will go on sale to the general public on February 10, 2017.
Eric is a 1996, 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota. Eric covers the University of North Dakota Hockey and Division I college hockey. Eric is the Contributing Editor for Inside Hockey.