Not everyone was amused. Stadium workers confiscated the sign and returned it to the group after the game.
The NCHC nearly witnessed a doomsday scenario in its debut event. St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth failed to advance to the Twin Cities, and North Dakota needed three games to dispose of Colorado College.
NCHC officials would never admit so publicly, but they probably put on their Zach Parise jerseys and crossed their fingers that North Dakota would survive that final game against Colorado College. The conference would’ve heard crickets chirping inside Target Center if its inaugural tournament consisted of Colorado College, Miami, Western Michigan and Denver.
That’s not a rip on the league or its quality of hockey. But in the absence of a semi-local draw, that tournament will struggle to find its footing in terms of attendance. Same thing with the Big Ten in games that don’t include the Gophers or possibly Wisconsin.
Both conferences preached patience in response to small crowds. They sold hope that new rivalries will develop in time. WCHA fans were a loyal bunch, though. It’ll take time for them to get on board.
Not surprisingly, though, North Dakota traveled a respectable contingent of fans this weekend. They gave Target Center some energy and noise Friday night. It just wasn’t the same without Gophers fans screaming back at them.
Chip Scoggins • firstname.lastname@example.org