Jason Gonzalez has covered an array of sports at all levels over the last nine years. He learned ice hockey, however, long before — during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah (his hometown). He got a close up look of legendary Gophers alum Herb Brooks and other Minnesota hockey greats. Jason has been with the Star Tribune since 2012.
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Gophers hockey fans are getting more clarity on when their favorite rivalry will return to Mariucci Arena. The Grand Forks Herald and KARE 11 reported on Thursday evening that the Gophers and North Dakota regular season rivalry will be back by the 2016-2017 season.
Both news organization cited unnamed sources. The Gophers athletic department wouldn't confirm the reports.
However, Gophers coach Don Lucia told the Star Tribune at Big Ten hockey media day two weeks ago that the return of the rivalry series had already been decided.
"North Dakota is back on our schedule in three years when Notre Dame comes off, that's already been decided," Lucia said. (See video below)
Lucia's statement lines up with the Grand Forks Herald's report that the rivalry will be renewed in 2016-2017. The report also states the first series will be played in Minneapolis. It will move to Grand Forks the following season.
The two programs had played every year since 1948. Conference realignment will end that streak this season. The two former Western Collegiate Hockey Association members are now part of the Big Ten and National Collegiate Hockey Conference, respectively.
Their last meeting was a 4-4 tie at Mariucci Arena in January.
Lucia interview. North Dakota statement about 50 seconds in.
KARE 11 report