TURNING INTO A FANATIC
1987 series in Grand Forks. Eddie Belfour, Tony Hrkac, Ian Kidd and the Fighting Sioux hosting Pat Micheletti and Corey Millen [and their Gophers team] in one of the greatest college hockey series ever played! They were probably the two best teams in the nation, and maybe two of the best EVER, facing off in a great skating, high-speed series. I was already a hockey fan, but that series made me a fanatic!
The rivalry is huge in Grand Forks. I graduated [from] there in 1988 and 1990 (MS), and was obviously a huge Sioux fan, even growing up in Bemidji, Minn. It's the weekend that gets circled as soon as the schedules come out. The only thing close is Wisconsin. It'll be a real sad day if the UM/UND series doesn't continue once they split conferences!
Let's GO SIOUX!!!
Kyle Bucher, Indianapolis, Ind.
Comments: The Gophers actually played at UND twice during the 1986-87 season. North Dakota beat them 5-2, 4-2 on Jan. 9-10 and twice more 5-3, 5-2 on March 13-14 in the first round of the WCHA playoffs.
Pat Micheletti was actually gone by then but Corey Millen had 36 goals and Steve MacSwain 31 for the Gophers that season. They were 34-14-1 that season and finished third in the Frozen Four. ... Hrkac had 46 goals that season for the Fighting Sioux who finished 40-8-0 and won the NCAA title.
GROWING UP SIOUX
Growing up a Sioux fan in the Twin Cities was never an easy thing to do. My parents are die-hard Sioux hockey fans. My earliest hockey memories were having all of my parents' friends from North Dakota over to watch the games and cheer against the Gophers. They were named: "Gophers Suck" parties.
Watching the Sioux-Gopher series has taught me many things in my life. I remember going to a WCHA Final Five game where the Gophers were playing the Sioux. The Gophers won the tournament.
I remember being heartbroken and trying to take some of my frustration out on a few Gopher fans in my section. My Dad calmly told me: "Easy now, this is their night to celebrate." This is a lesson I will pass down to my children some day. When your team loses, respect the opponent and their fans regardless of how you feel.
My most vivid memory as a Sioux fan was the (Joe) Finley-(Blake) Wheeler line incident a few years ago. I was watching the game live at Mariucci with my cousin. He told me: "Let's get out of here and beat the traffic" as the game ended. I told him, "No, let's watch the handshake, something could happen," and sure enough an all-out brawl occurred.
This series is built on memorable moments and I am sure we will see a few more this weekend. I will be at both games. On Friday with my Dad and on Saturday with my girlfriend and her parents who are avid Gopher fans. Should be a great weekend of hockey!!
Alex Buresh, St. Paul, MN.
Comments: Wheeler of the Gophers and Joe Finley of UND scuffled in the handshake line after a 1-1 tie on Feb. 2, 2008.
GOPHER IN SIOUXLAND
The year escapes me, but it was during the 90’s. I made the trek to Grand Forks every year for the UND/Gophers series. My brother, a Sioux fan, and me, a Gophers fan, sat side-by-side.
The record of each team was usually very different. The Gophers, almost always ranked #1 in the country or close to the top, and the Sioux were usually straddling the .500 mark. It never failed, I witnessed a Sioux romp in front of a raucous crowd. There I stood, clad in maroon and gold, looking like a fool….and hearing it from the Sioux fans.
The memory I have is a funny one. We did our usual pre-game bar-hopping and found our seats. Moments into the game, bing, a Sioux goal. Minutes later, bing, a second Sioux goal.
My brother, standing there in his Sioux jersey, was pointing in my face, shouting at the top of his lungs. I reacted! I shouted, “I am not going to watch this (expletive) again.” I left the arena, took a cab to the downtown Grand Forks bar scene, and proceeded to drown my sorrows. I was so peeved that I started giving away everything I was wearing. A bar patron liked my hat, and I gave it to him. The bartender admired my brand new Gopher pullover, so I gave it to him. I was finished with the Gopher Hockey program!
Well, needless to say, the Gophers came back to win that night! There I stood in just my blue jeans and a t-shirt, feeling like an idiot, and pretty drunk. My brother and his Sioux friends caught up to me at one of the downtown bars, and more laughter ensued. Even after a Gopher win in Grand Forks, I still managed to look like a fool.
And….I am still a Gopher Hockey fan today!
I remember a game in the later 80’s at old Mariucci where Pete Hankinson scored the winning goal with about 12 seconds left!
That was important since the U lost the next day to ND.
J.A., Waukesha, WI
Comments: J.A., Below is the Star Tribune story on the game you are referring to. The game was played Jan. 26, 1990. And you are right, the Gophers lost 7-4 the next night to the Fighting Sioux.
By JOHN GILBERT
Scott Bloom came up with the smartest and biggest play of the game by
not touching the puck in the closing seconds Friday night. Moments
later, Peter Hankinson broke in with Tom Pederson's rebound and scored
with 11 seconds to go, giving the Gophers a 5-4 victory over North
The 7,563 fans who jammed Mariucci Arena saw one of the most
intense and exciting games of the season. The Fighting Sioux, riding
the crest of an eight-game winning streak, stretched the Gophers to the
limit before the Gophers escaped with their eighth straight victory
overall, 12th straight WCHA triumph and 15th victory in 16 games.
A night of big plays wound down to the final 3 1/2 minutes tied
3-3. Ken Gernander nominated a potential game-winner by ripping a
20-foot shot past Tony Couture.
No chance. With 2:02 left, Dixon Ward skated in, veered from two
defenders and shot past a diving Tom Newman for a tie.
But after all the heroic plays, it took a subtlety to win it. The
puck bounced high to Gophers defenseman Pederson. He reached up and
batted it down with his glove. It went toward the Sioux blue line,
where Bloom circled. Normal instinct might be to grab possession, with
the clock inside 20 seconds and overtime looming.
But Bloom didn't touch it because he knew if he did a whistle
would have stopped play for one player knocking the puck by hand to a
teammate. "Tommy yelled for me to pass it to him, too," Bloom said.
"But I saw him coming, and I pulled off and left it for him."
Pederson didn't need an engraved invitation. He seized the puck
and bolted into the Sioux zone, darting around a defender and shooting
hard. Couture blocked it, and the rebound came out about 25 feet, where
Hankinson was closing. "I was on my backhand side," Hankinson said. "I
don't have that much confidence in my backhand from that far out, so I
broke in to get on my forehand."
Hankinson's burst of speed put him in wide on the left, and he
snapped a 10-footer into the short side.
"The crowd was really into it," Hankinson said. "I haven't had
this much attention all year, and it was probably my worst game."
Everybody likes to remember that Blake Wheeler goal in 2007 in the WCHA tournament to win, but they forget that Blake Wheeler was the goat in the NCAA’s that followed when ND met MN again.
Wheeler got called for a 10-minute misconduct penalty for smashing his stick against the boards. While he was sitting in the box for a very stupid penalty, ND tied the game and then went on to win, ending the Gopher season.
Both fantastic hockey games!
Evan Trupp’s goal in this YOUTUBE video was also one of a kind!
J.S. (no city)
Comments: Trupp dove to hit a puck out of the air on Feb. 1, 2008 and give the Fighting Sioux a 2-1 overtime victory over the Gophers at Mariucci Arena. I was at that game. Amazing play.