Scoggins: Fun leaves Gophers-North Dakota hockey rivalry

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 22, 2014 - 12:04 AM

Fans of North Dakota and the Gophers can’t get close enough to taunt each other.


Gophers go down in Big Ten tournament Ohio State stunned the Gophers 3-1 in Friday’s Big Ten tournament at Xcel Energy Center. Hudson Fasching of the Gophers was foiled by defender Nick Schilkey (37) as Buckeyes goalie Christian Frey watched. Ohio State meets Wisconsin in Saturday’s title game. Coverage, C6

Photo: Ann Heisenfelt • Associated Press,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The sea of green that filled a few downtown Minneapolis establishments Friday afternoon gave the appearance of a St. Patrick’s Day do-over.

The patrons were festive and loud and thrilled to be playing hooky from work. But the party also lacked something. There were no insults or trash talk hurled in the direction of people wearing maroon sweatshirts. And vice versa.

North Dakota hockey fans mingled in peace, while Gophers fans congregated similarly 10 miles away in downtown St. Paul.

The mood in both places felt remarkably tame and civil. Not necessarily boring, just different.

The Hatfields were on one side of the river, the McCoys on the other, neither one able to engage the other.

Where’s the fun in that?

“It’s sad,” said Gophers fan Jake John. “We love to hate the Sioux. As much as we’re rivals, we want to play them because their fans are so much fun.”

The two fan bases were sequestered Friday as their new respective conferences staged overlapping tournaments in which, fittingly, their headliner programs played simultaneously.

The Gophers faced Ohio State in the semifinals of the inaugural Big Ten Tournament at Xcel Energy Center. A few miles down I-94, North Dakota played Miami in the semis of the inaugural National Collegiate Hockey Conference tournament at Target Center.

Both the Gophers and North Dakota lost, which means the championship games in both events now probably could be held at a high school arena. How about a doubleheader at Braemar?

As strange as it sounds, their fans missed each other, presumably in the same way that squabbling siblings need that interaction.

“I wish we still had the Gophers on the schedule,” North Dakota fan Cliff Newby said. “I looked forward to those games.”

As rivalries go, Gophers-North Dakota in hockey apologized to no one. The former WCHA rivals have played nearly 300 times since 1930 and many of their meetings carried conference or national implications.

Alas, college sports revolve around money, TV networks and branding nowadays, and this split seemed inevitable once the Big Ten launched its network. Rivalries don’t rank high in that pecking order, no matter how much fans cling to their history and tradition.

That’s too bad because the WCHA Final Five usually provided a rollicking time that made downtown St. Paul come alive for the weekend. And if a Gophers-North Dakota matchup happened to materialize, the temperature around Seventh Street jumped a few notches as fans engaged in some spirited back-and-forth. Those fans loved it.

“There’s really nobody to do that with now,” Newby said. “Our biggest rival right now is St. Cloud, and they’re not even here.”

Both conferences encountered some growing pains this weekend. Crowds on the first day of the Big Ten tournament were so sparse that officials could have counted attendance by hand. In one display of protest, a group of Gophers fans, including Jake John, unfurled a banner that read “B1G Mistake.”

“The stadium got a good kick out of it,” said Jake’s cousin, Cory John. “I think everybody kind of feels the same right now.”

  • related content

  • Gophers go down in Big Ten tournamentBuckeyes took care of business including Gophers Justin Kloos in front of the net. ] Big Ten Mens Hockey Tournament - Minnesota Gophers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio State won 3-1. (MARLIN LEVISON/STARTRIBUNE(

  • Kyle Rau (7) celebrated after scoring the lone Gophers goal Friday.

  • Gophers head coach Don Lucia and players watch the final seconds tick away on their loss. ] Big Ten Mens Hockey Tournament - Minnesota Gophers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio State won 3-1. (MARLIN LEVISON/STARTRIBUNE(

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Cincinnati - WP: M. Lorenzen 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Locke 1
Miami - WP: M. Latos 2 FINAL
Washington - LP: S. Strasburg 1
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: M. Estrada 3
Philadelphia - LP: C. Billingsley 0 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: S. Miller 9
Baltimore - LP: B. Norris 2 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: B. Colon 3
Tampa Bay - LP: D. Smyly 0 FINAL
Boston - WP: R. Porcello 2
Los Angeles - WP: Z. Greinke 8 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: M. Garza 2
Cleveland - LP: D. Salazar 3 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Vargas 5
Detroit - LP: S. Greene 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Samardzija 5
Oakland - WP: J. Chavez 2 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: T. May 1
Texas - WP: W. Rodriguez 7 FINAL
Houston - LP: S. Feldman 1
Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Harris 7
Arizona 0 Postponed
Colorado 0
Seattle - LP: D. Leone 4 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: H. Street 5
San Diego - LP: A. Cashner 0 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: R. Vogelsong 6
Washington 90 FINAL
Atlanta 106
Memphis 97 FINAL
Golden State 90
Chicago 1 FINAL
Minnesota 0
Anaheim 3 FINAL(OT)
Calgary 4
San Jose 1 FINAL
Houston 0
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Does it bother you that Tyus Jones chose Duke over Minnesota?

Weekly Question