UND set to play one last “ocean” series at Mariucci – Grand Forks Herald


MINNEAPOLIS — When UND players step onto the ice at 3M Arena in Mariucci, one thing comes to mind.

“It’s an ocean,” said UND captain Mark Senden.

Mariucci’s ice surface is one of the largest in college hockey. It is 100 feet wide. NHL-sized ice caps, like the Ralph Engelstad Arena, are 85 feet. Mariucci’s corners are also deep.

“It’s huge,” said assistant captain Ethan Frisch. “You go out and it’s like an ocean. You have to get used to crossing the width of the rink and all that kind of stuff. It’s a big track, of course.”

In 1980, a group of college hockey players stunned the world by upsetting the Soviet Union and winning gold at the Olympics, spawning an Olympic-size ice cap boom in college hockey.

In 1983, Sullivan Arena in Anchorage opened as an Olympic foil. A group followed – the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud State in 1989, the Carlson Center in Fairbanks in 1990, the Whittemore Center in New Hampshire in 1995, the Verizon Wireless Center in Minnesota-Mankato State in 1995, Colorado College’s World Arena in 1998, and the Berry Events Center in Northern Michigan. in 1999.

Mariucci was right in the middle of the boom – 1993.

When Ralph Engelstad Arena was built at the end of the boom in 2001, it was built with a second, Olympic-size ice cap so UND could train on it to prepare for road weekends like this. -this. The Fighting Hawks take on the Gophers at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Minneapolis.

But this will be the last time UND will perform on Mariucci Ocean.

By the time UND makes its next trip to Minneapolis to take on the Gophers in the Rivalry Series, Minnesota will have joined the latest trend of teams ditching their Olympic caps for NHL-sized or hybrid rinks.

Minnesota’s plan is to drop to 89 feet by the start of next season. It won’t quite be an NHL sheet, but it will be pretty close.

The Gophers will join MSU-Mankato, Alaska Anchorage and Colorado College as programs that dropped their Olympic-sized sheets.

UND probably won’t shed many tears.

He didn’t have much luck in Mariucci. In fact, it’s only swept two series in the building since it opened – in January 2007, Ryan Duncan, TJ Oshie and Jonathan Toews tore through a team-laden Gophers, and on Thanksgiving weekend 2019, Jordan Kawaguchi and Co. hung nine on the scoreboard in Game 1 of the series and edged Minnesota 3-2 in the series finale.

Looking to learn more about this weekend’s UND-Minnesota rivalry? Here are more stories…

“Last time we just followed them,” said Frisch, who was a freshman during the 2019 series. “I don’t think it had anything to do with the Olympic sheet. We just had this mentality of going out there and chasing them right away. It was a home game for us, basically, probably over half the fans were North Dakota fans. It was absolutely amazing for us .”

It’s unclear when UND will play Mariucci next, but it won’t be the next two seasons.

Next year, Minnesota will come to Grand Forks for a series Oct. 20-21. This is the last game between the rivals of this contract.

They will not play in the 2024-25 regular season. The UND program is almost full for this season. It’s enough to complete another two-game series in Grand Forks, but it’s likely to be a money-back game that doesn’t require a comeback.

The first UND and Minnesota could start a new series would be 2025-26. Both coaches seem optimistic about signing a new contract in the future.

“We’re still trying to incorporate it,” Berry said. “We talk about things we like to do every year. Bemidji is one of them. They’re two hours away, and I have huge respect for them. It’s a situation like this where we want to restore those rivalries. … even Mankato is coming here in a year or two. We play against good and tough teams, but it sharpens you up when you play against good teams.

Minnesota coach Bob Motzko said, “We’re going to keep playing. We’ve got a year off to take.”

For now, UND is focusing on this move to the Olympic rink.

“It changes the game a bit,” Frisch said. “You have a lot more space. It changes some of the things about the specialty teams – the penalty kill, the power play. There’s a lot of different things that we talk about throughout the week, watching videos and seeing how we’ve been successful in the past or how other teams have been successful and that’s something we need to work together, luckily we have the Olympic sheet here to train with as well.

UND will only practice on the big sheet one more time this season — before a December series at St. Cloud State.

The only remaining Olympic rinks in college hockey are St. Cloud State, Alaska (Fairbanks), New Hampshire and Northern Michigan. Wisconsin’s Kohl Center isn’t a true Olympic sheet — it’s 97 feet wide — but it’s almost there.

Soon, Mariucci will also be history.

“Colorado College has moved away from the big rink,” Berry said. “Minnesota is going to contract its rink next year. Many venues have turned into NHL rinks.”

No. 7 UND at No. 1 Minnesota

When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Where: 3M Arena in Mariucci.
Recordings: UND 2-1-1, Minnesota 3-1.
TV: Bally Sports North Extra (GF Ch. 339, 639 HD) Friday; Bally Sports North (GF Ch. 28/623 HD) on Saturdays.
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM) on Friday, Cat Country (100.3) on Saturday.
Flow: Big Ten Plus.

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