We were on hand along with a shade under 11,000 fans Sunday -- well under capacity at Xcel Energy Center, but that's a ticket price story for another day ($94 for three-game package, $57 for single-session) -- for the West Region final hockey game between the Gophers and UND. As we have noted many times, we have seen equal parts of this rivalry from both sides, having spent almost the exact same number of years living in Grand Forks (growing up) and Minneapolis (college-present). Having these two hockey teams meet for a sixth time this season -- with the Gophers holding an overall 3-2 series lead going in, but with UND holding the mental edge after last week's Final Five comeback victory -- was a perfect way to settle the score. It was also yet another reminder of the emotional cauldron that erupts between these fan bases any time a game, especially one with implications like a Frozen Four berth, is played.

We will spare you the lament (this time) about how all this is coming to an end when the Gophers join the Big Ten hockey league starting in the 2013-14 season. Instead, we will simply say this:

When it comes to rivalries involving major Minnesota sports teams, nothing tops Vikings-Packers. We can't imagine anything ever will, considering how widespread and vitriolic it is. The contenders for the No. 2 spot have to be Gophers/Badgers football, Gophers/Badgers men's basketball, Twins/White Sox and Gophers/UND hockey. As noted before, the Wolves and Wild lack any real rivals who would vault into that mix. Iowa? They've always been a "meh" to us.

And maybe this is just because things are so fresh after witnessing the clashing of these two teams and fan bases for back to back weekends in high-stakes games, but we would argue that Gophers/UND hockey could very well be the second-biggest rivalry in all of major Minnesota sports -- yes, bigger than Gophers-Wisconsin anything and better than Twins/White Sox. At the very least, we would say the hockey rivalry is right there on par with the rest. If you need any convincing, there were 160 comments as of 9 a.m. on the Gophers/UND game story on Startribune.com. Very few of them were polite.

Agree, disagree, thoughts in the comments.

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