We grew up, as many of you know, in Grand Forks -- spending close to the first 18 years of our life there. We have spent nearly an equal amount of time now in the Twin Cities, both at school and work.
That gives us, perhaps, a unique dual perspective on what we consider one of the best rivalries in college hockey -- and, yes, one of the best rivalries in all of sports.
We still vividly remember going to games at the Old Ralph on the UND campus -- where, as a young child, we were once handed a picture of a dead, bloody gopher impaled on a hockey stick. This was only natural. The Gophers were the sworn enemy.
Upon arriving at the U of M campus, allegiances gradually shifted. It was clear the Gophers had more rivals than just UND (so, too, did North Dakota but not to such an extreme), and that Minnesota was the real focal point of the WCHA when it came to the angst of smaller but still very hockey-devout schools.
Always, though, the Gophers/UND rivalry remained cherished. It is the perfect mix of small vs. big. It has just the right amount of irrational hatred. Both schools have typically been competitive (yeah, we know the Gophers have stumbled the past few years, but still).
So now that the stars have aligned to pit the Gophers vs. UND in tonight's WCHA Final Five semifinals, we want to make sure you cherish it -- regardless of which side you are on. With the Big Ten hockey conference looming on the horizon (play begins in the fall of 2013), these types of meetings will soon no longer be guaranteed. Games with such meaning -- the Gophers are 8th in the pairwise, UND 9th, meaning NCAA seeding is very much in play -- are now fleeting.
It's a little sad to think about the future. But in the present -- a 70-plus degree day on St. Patrick's Eve, with time for fans to build up a mighty thirst before and after the game -- we sure do hope everyone enjoys this.