Skip to main content

Still pissed about Big Ten hockey? Take a lesson from UND

Three of 4 teams in the Frozen Four have ignited angry feelings.

College hockey's most hated conference claimed three of four spots in the Frozen Four over the weekend, and it's only made an already heated debate about the Big Ten's impact on the State of Hockey even hotter. 

The vitriol between Big Ten haters and supporters goes back to 2013 when the Big Ten arrived in men's hockey, taking with it longtime Western Collegiate Hockey Association power teams Minnesota and Wisconsin, and leaving a wake that ripped apart the WCHA and the in-state rivalries that came with it. 

Minnesota-Duluth, St. Cloud State, Denver, Colorado College, North Dakota and Nebraska-Omaha abandoned the WCHA for a new home in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC). All the while, Minnesota State-Mankato and Bemidji State were left in the WCHA, where they remain today. 

"We're used to rivalries around here, and the WCHA was built with those. Everyone wanted to beat Minnesota and everyone wanted to play Minnesota, especially the in-state teams," explained Gophers great Pat Micheletti. 

It was essentially the blue bloods stealing from the blue collar, but it hasn't exactly harmed the level of play across Minnesota. 

"If anything, college hockey in Minnesota is probably better," says UMD's radio play-by-play voice Bruce Ciskie. "The problem is that the rivalries aren't the same because people perceive the games as meaningless because points aren't on the line. The reality in college hockey is the non-conference games, a lot of times, mean more than the conference games." 

'It's Gopher fans I worry about'

Ciskie's fix is for fans to start embracing change the way North Dakota has.

"Their fans have embraced the NCHC," says Ciskie. "Yeah, they don't get to play Minnesota State, Bemidji State or the Gophers on a regular basis...but now when UMD is in there it's always a big deal."

"They've embraced the rivalries that they have in their new conference, and that is the example that needs to be followed." 

And if there's one fan base that has more work to do than the rest, it's Minnesota, Ciskie argues. 

"It's Gopher fans that I worry about. We've lost a lot of college hockey fans in Minnesota – primarily from the Gophers – over a number of different things, but it starts with the Big Ten changes and it moves into some other things that they've done internally." 

Overall, the Gophers finished third among D1 programs in attendance this season, although they only averaged 87.6 percent capacity in the 10,000-seat Mariucci Arena compared to near sellouts every season going back to the WCHA days and beyond. 

"The smarter people hopefully will get together someday, whether it be interlocking schedules, just find a way to get these rivalries back," said a hopeful Micheletti. 

"For now....embrace it, enjoy it and let's grow the game."

Next Up

ambulance

Two youths seriously injured after being struck by driver in Bloomington

Police say the boy is in a critical condition, while the girl has severe injuries.

Rosedale Center

Two men sentenced for carjacking in Rosedale Center parking lot

Leon Kismit Bell, 49, and Jack Mitchell Piche, 23, were sentenced in U.S. District Court on Jan. 20.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 3.59.30 PM

Police identify White Bear Lake officer shot while serving warrant

The officer is a six-year veteran of the department.

abortion, planned parenthood

Minnesota Senate passes bill codifying abortion into state law

Having already passed in the House, it will now be sent to Gov. Tim Walz for signing into law.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Tyre Nichols: Initial police version of events bear similarities to George Floyd killing

Memphis PD said Nichols complained of 'shortness of breath' following 'confrontations' with police, who in reality violently beat him.

George Floyd, protest

Twin Cities authorities preparing for community reaction to Tyre Nichols video

The ATF division in St. Paul sent out an alert out of "an abundance of caution."

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 2.12.05 PM

Changes at K102's Chris Carr & Company, with Sam Sansevere joining as co-host

She is the daughter of former KQRS morning show personality Bob Sansevere.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 1.16.21 PM

Minneapolis' Royal Foundry Craft Spirits announces closure

The distillery set out to infuse the Minneapolis craft cocktail scene with British flavor.

ShutterflyGoogle

Shutterfly to cut almost 100 jobs at Shakopee facility

The layoffs are expected to impact multiple positions within the company.

Related

Gophers hockey

Season over: Gophers fall to Notre Dame, Motzko rips officials

Meanwhile, the Gopher women won to advance to the Frozen Four.

Big Ten media expects big things from Pitino's Gophers

Minnesota was picked third in the preseason conference poll.

Gophers softball wins 3rd straight Big Ten Tournament title

They're just the second team to win three straight in the last 20 years.

DycprKwXQAE3lMg

Minnesota hockey teams have a shot at creating history

Three Minnesota schools might have a chance to reach the Frozen Four.