Thursday, January 29, 2009

The University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves

(above) UAA's Sullivan Arena

Magness Arena, Denver. Colo.
January 30-31, 2009

The Alaska Anchorage Seawolves will travel to Denver, Colorado to face the No. 7 Denver Pioneers in Western Collegiate Hockey Association series on Jan. 30-31 at Magness Arena. Game time is scheduled for 7:37 p.m. (MST) on Friday night and at 7:07 p.m. (MST) on Saturday. Both games will be televised live on FSN Rocky Mountain and webcast live on Radio broadcasts include 560 AM (Friday) and 101.5 FM (Saturday) in Denver.

The Series:
The Pioneers lead the all time series 36-13-5 dating back to 1992-93, and DU leads those games played in Denver 19-6-1 and 11-3 in Magness Arena, with DU going 8-0 in its last eight games against UAA and 9-1 in the last 10. Last season the Pioneers swept UAA in both conference series. DU has held UAA to three goals or less in the last 11 contests. Since joining the WCHA, UAA has only swept two series against DU - both at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage (1996 and 1998).

Seawolves to watch:
Alaska Anchorage is ninth in the WCHA with 14 points. The Seawolves are led by forwards Paul Crowder and Tommy Grant. Crowder leads the team with 9-14--23, while Grant has added 14-7--21. Kevin Clark (6-12--18), Brian Bales (1-14--15) and Josh Lunden (10-4--14) are effective scoring forwards as well. Bryce Christianson (3-4-3, 2.85 GAA, .875 Saves percentage) and Jon Althuis (5-6-1, 3.32 GAA, .866 saves percentage) have shared goaltending duties.

About the University of Alaska-Anchorage
University of Alaska Anchorage is the largest member of the University of Alaska System, with more than 19,000 students, about 14,000 of whom attend classes at the main Anchorage campus. Most of the students at UAA commute, while about 1000 students live on campus.

UAA comprises eight colleges and schools: The College of Education, College of Health and Social Welfare, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business and Public Policy, the Community and Technical College, School of Engineering, School of Nursing and School of Social Work. There are four community campuses: Matanuska-Susitna College, Kenai Peninsula College, Kodiak College, and Prince William Sound Community College. UAA offers Graduate degrees through the Graduate Division.

The university's history began in 1954, when the Anchorage Community College opened, using the then-Anchorage High School building at night. Anchorage Senior College began providing upper-division classes in 1969, becoming the four-year University of Alaska Anchorage in 1976. UAA, ACC, and ACC's rural extension units merged in 1987 to form the present institution.

Located in the heart of Alaska’s largest city is the University of Alaska Anchorage, the state’s largest post-secondary institution. The campus is nestled in the middle of a greenbelt, surrounded by lakes, ponds and wildlife, and is connected to a city-wide trail system.

Most popular majors at UAA
-Business Administration
-Human Services
-Aviation Technology

About the UAA Hockey Program
UAA is a program that represents the underdog in all of us. They play home games that are at least two time zones and long plane flights removed from most of the rest of college hockey, and since few visiting fans have made the trip to Alaska in winter, we know less about UAA, contributing to their unique mystique.

UAA began playing varsity hockey in 1979, under pioneering coach Kelvin “Brush” Christiansen. As a startup program in the first season, UAA’s team did not leave the state of Alaska, as the team played at 8 games at the NCAA D-II level against fellow Alaskan rival the University of Alaska Fairbanks, beating UAF in all 8 games, and the remaining 23 games against Alaskan Senior League teams, going 17-14 overall. The first four seasons of UAA hockey would be played on campus at the UAA sports center, now known as the Wells Fargo Sports Complex, where UAA won 70% of its games. UAA now uses the rink as a practice facility.

The following season, UAA scheduled a full collegiate slate at the D-II level, and went 14-10. By 1981-82, the Seawolves began scheduling more Division I opponents, and gained their first sweep of a D-I school when they defeated the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks. That season also included a triumphant four game sweep of German opponents in the former West Germany.

In 1982-83, The Seawolves recorded their first 20 win season, going 20-7-1, and were in the process of establishing themselves as a legitimate spectator attraction in Anchorage. For the last game of that season, UAA lost a 4-3 exhibition to US National Team in the newly-constructed 6,000-seat Sullivan Arena in downtown Anchorage, where they have played ever since.

The 1983-1984 hockey season would be the last played at the Division II level, and the Seawolves made it a memorable one, winning 23 games, losing six and tying one and starting the season with a 22-game winning streak (with five of the 22 wins coming against the Korean National Team) and their first win over a WCHA school, a 8-3 whipping of Colorado College.

The next year, UAA elevated the program to play as a full NCAA Division I independent, and went 17-21, including a six-game sweep of Korean Universities in South Korea.

The next big step in the evolution of the program was the formation of the Great West Hockey Conference in 1986, a collection of four former western independent programs (Northern Arizona, U.S. International University, UAF and UAA). While the conference lasted only a couple of seasons, UAA won the inaugural season and finished third in the second season.

By 1989, NAU and USIU has dropped hockey as a varsity sport, and UAA found itself as a D-I independent once again. Fortunately, 1989-90 was the breakthrough season for the program as a legitimate D-I force. The team went 21-11-2, with a lot of magic moments along the way. The first sweep of a Hockey East team came in January, when UAA swept Maine. But the biggest regular season moment of all came when UAA beat Minnesota in Minneapolis, 4-3 in a thrilling overtime contest, announcing to the world of college hockey that the UAA program was for real. The next week, UAA also tied Michigan in Ann Arbor and finished out the regular season of college opponents with a 5-1 drubbing of rival UAF.

In those days, the NCAA tourney was a 12-team tournament, and UAA was selected to represent the lone independents’ slot after beating Notre Dame in the special independents’ tournament in Alabama. While UAA lost to Lake Superior State in the first round of the NCAAs in a two-game total-goals series, it marked another step in the development of the program as the first of three consecutive years of NCAA appearances as an independent. This three-year era represented the high water mark of the UAA program in terms of wins and NCAA appearances.

In 1990-91, behind the superb goaltending of Paul Krake and the scoring talents of Robb Conn and Dean Larson, the Seawolves won 22, lost 17 and tied 4. But the story of the season was not so much in the beginning of the year, when UAA started with only two Division I wins before December, but the finish, when UAA hosted the independents’ tournament in March, and exploded for 15 goals, wiping out Alabama-Huntsville 5-0 and Notre Dame 10-2 to earn another independents’ slot in the NCAA tournament.

The Seawolves would then face powerhouse Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass. on BC’s home ice– a tall order for any college hockey program, let alone an independent with only seven seasons as a D-I program under its belt. But UAA flew to Boston undaunted, and proceeded to shock the Eagles with a 3-2 victory in the first game, and doing it once again, beating BC in game 2 by a 3-1 count, marking the first NCAA victories for UAA, and sending the Seawolves to the NCAA quarterfinals as the victors of one of the bigger NCAA upsets in history.

UAA then advanced to Marquette, Mich. to face the high-scoring Northern Michigan Wildcats, who would be the eventual NCAA Champions that year. UAA put up a good fight, but lost by 8-5 and 5-3 scores to NMU.

The next season (1991-92) would become the most successful UAA season ever in terms of wins and losses, as the Seawolves stormed out a school record 27-8-1 record, and a 14-3 record heading into the New Year. In the second half, UAA went on another serious rampage through its independent schedule, going 13-2 from mid-January to early March, with the only two losses coming to arch-rival UAF in Fairbanks. The Seawolves then travelled back to Fairbanks for the Independents’ tournament, where they defeated Air Force 3-2 in the semifinal, setting up an epic revenge/grudge match with rival UAF for the independent tourney title and the NCAA bid. The game was tied 3-3 heading into overtime, and UAF fans were hopeful that fortune would shine on them at the Carlson Center. But it was not to be, as it was UAA who won the game in overtime, 4-3, sending the Seawolves to face Lake Superior State in a first round NCAA game at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Unfortunately for the Seawolves, a full 20 days had elapsed between the dramatic victory over UAF (March 7) and the game with LSSU (March 27), and LSSU won by a 7-3 count, ending UAA’s season. But all was not lost from a program standpoint, as the WCHA had noticed the advancement and commitment of UAA’s program. The WCHA awarded UAA with WCHA affiliate status for the next season, with an eye toward full WCHA membership in 1994.

The next season (1992-1993) saw UAA play a number of WCHA teams as an affiliate member, but not a full WCHA schedule, and the Seawolves responded with another winning year, going 18-14, and beating schools such as Boston College, and sweeping North Dakota and Northern Michigan. The WCHA also allowed UAA to participate in the WCHA playoffs, where UAA fell to Minnesota-Duluth. Little did most Seawolf fans realize that they would wait at least 15 years for the next winning season…

UAA’s admission to the WCHA would be a mixed blessing for the program – on one hand, the stability and security of playing in the nation’s dominant conference has improved the level of talent, credibility and prestige of the program, but due to the dramatically increased level of opposition that UAA now faces weekly in the WCHA, the Seawolves have not been able to finish higher than 6th in the WCHA since admission, have never hosted a league playoff game and still face some of the most difficult travel in all of college hockey every season. As a result, UAA has yet to make a return visit to the NCAA tournament.

Brush Christiansen retired as coach after 17 years after the 1995 season, and he was followed by Dean Talafous for the next five seasons, followed by ex-UAA player John Hill for four seasons, before he suddenly left the team to be an assistant at Minnesota. Current UAA coach Dave Shyiak has been on the job for for the past 2.5 seasons.. The common denominator with all the Seawolf coaches since joining in the WCHA has been lower division finishes and mostly first round playoff exits.

That’s not to say there haven’t been some thrilling moments in the last 15 years for UAA fans. In the 2003-2004 season, UAA had a dreadful 4-14-1 second half of the season and finished 8th in the league. But in the league playoffs, UAA stunned Wisconsin at the Kohl Center in Madison, winning the best 2 of 3 series and advancing to the WCHA final five in Minneapolis for the first time ever. There, the Seawolves whipped Colorado College in the play-in game, 4-1, gaining a berth in the league semi-final, and coming only two wins away from an automatic NCAA tourney berth. But North Dakota ended the fairly-tale UAA finish with a 4-2 victory in the semis.

Since then, there have also been some glimmers of hope in playoff play. In the 2005, WCHA playoffs, UAA also beat Wisconsin 2-1 again in Madison to even the playoff series at one game each, but UAA fell 2-1 in the deciding game three. And in 2007, UAA also enjoyed its only other WCHA first round playoff victory, over host Minnesota (2-1) in overtime to even the series at one game each, but the Gophers won deciding game 3-1 to advance.

Individually, there have also been some well-known players to wear the Green and Gold, including future NHLers Robb Conn, All WCHA first teamer Greg Naumenko, Mike Peluso, Jeff Batters and Curtis Glencross.

Through all the losing, the Seawolves have retained a loyal core group of fans, and still compete toe to toe with the local minor league hockey team, the Anchorage Aces, for local fans and publicity. A new on-campus arena is the hope for many UAA fans, but it is not yet a reality.

Seawolf Traditions – The Nickname
UAA’s athletics teams were originally known as the Sourdoughs, but the university adopted the Seawolf moniker in 1977 when it elevated its program to the NCAA Division II level.

The name ‘Seawolf’ represents a mythical sea creature that, according to Tlingit Indian legend, brings good luck to anyone fortunate enough to view it. The exact nature or shape of the Seawolf, however, is left to the imagination, thus the creature has been depicted in many forms throughout the years.

The Seawolf logo of today was designed and introduced in 1985 by Clark Mishler & Associates in cooperation with a university committee. It represents an adaptation of a more traditional Alaska totemic-like characterization of the mythical Seawolf.

Notable UAA Alumni (Thanks to Paul Porco of UAA for providing the non-hockey names)
- Alaska Governor and former VP candidate Sarah Palin is “believed to have attended UAA at some point”, but this could be not been officially confirmed by the school
- Mike Doogan, current state representative, current author of mystery novels, former metro columnist for the Anchorage Daily News
- Deborah Bonito, wife of newly-elected Sen. Mark Begich
- Susan Knowles, wife of former Alaska Gov. and former Anchorage mayor Tony Knowles
- Diane Benson, former candidate for Alaska’s only seat in the U.S. House
- Arlitia Jones, poet & playwright; author of “The Bandsaw Riots,” book of poems
- Dana Stabenow, Alaska’s most successful novelist, author of 16 or mystery novels
- NHL Hockey player Robb Conn
- NHL Hockey player Greg Naumenko
- NHL Hockey player Mike Peluso
- NHL Hockey player Jeff Batters
- NHL Hockey player Curtis Glencross

About Anchorage
Anchorage (officially called the Municipality of Anchorage) is Alaska’s largest city. With an estimated 279,671 municipal residents in 2007, and 359,180 residents within the Metropolitan Statistical Area, metro Anchorage constitutes more than 40 percent of the state's total population.

Anchorage was established in 1914 as a railroad construction port for the Alaska Railroad, which was built between 1915 and 1923. Ship Creek Landing, where the railroad headquarters was located, quickly became a tent city; Anchorage was incorporated on November 23, 1920. The city's economy in the 1920s centered around the railroad. Between the 1930s and the 1950s, the city experienced massive growth as air transportation and the military became increasingly important. Merrill Field opened in 1930, and Anchorage International Airport opened in 1951. Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson were constructed in the 1940s.

On March 27, 1964, Anchorage was hit by the major Good Friday Earthquake, which killed 115 Alaskans and caused $1.8 billion in damage (2007 U.S. dollars). The earth-shaking event lasted nearly five minutes; most structures that failed remained intact the first few minutes, then failed with repeated flexing. Rebuilding dominated the city in the mid 1960s.

In 1968, oil was discovered in Prudhoe Bay, and the resulting oil boom spurred further growth in Anchorage. In 1975, Anchorage merged with Eagle River, Girdwood, Glen Alps, and several other communities. The merger expanded the city, known officially as the Municipality of Anchorage. The city continued to grow in the 1980s, and capital projects and an aggressive beautification campaign took place.

Anchorage is located in South Central Alaska. It lies slightly farther north than Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki and St. Petersburg. It is northeast of the Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak Island, and Cook Inlet, due north of the Kenai Peninsula, northwest of Prince William Sound and Alaska Panhandle, and nearly due south of Mount McKinley/Denali. The city is on a strip of coastal lowland and extends up the lower alpine slopes of the Chugach Mountains. To the south is Turnagain Arm, a fjord that has some of the world's highest tides. Knik Arm, another tidal inlet, lies to the west and north. The Chugach Mountains on the east form a boundary to development, but not to the city limits, which encompass part of the wild alpine territory of Chugach State Park.

Anchorage has a subarctic climate due to its short, cool summers. Average daytime summer temperatures range from approximately 55 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit (13 to 26 degrees Celsius); average daytime winter temperatures are about 5 to 30 degrees (-15 to -1 degrees Celsius). Anchorage has a frost-free growing season that averages slightly over 100 days.

A diverse wildlife population exists in urban Anchorage and the surrounding area. Approximately 250 black bears and 60 grizzly bears live in the area. Bears are regularly sighted within the city. Moose are also a common sight. In the Anchorage Bowl, there is a summer population of approximately 250 moose, increasing to as many as 1000 during the winter and over 100 moose are killed by cars each year.

Anchorage's largest economic sectors include transportation, military, local and federal government, tourism, and resource extraction. Large portions of the local economy depend on Anchorage's geographical location and surrounding natural resources. Anchorage's economy traditionally has seen steady growth, while not quite as rapid as the rest of the country; it also does not experience as much pain during economic downturns. Widespread housing foreclosures seen around the country during 2007 and 2008 were generally nowhere near as severe in Anchorage.

The United States Military has two main bases in the area, Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson as well as the Kulis Air National Guard Base in Anchorage. These three bases employ approximately 8500 people and military personal and their families comprise 10 percent of the local population. During the Cold War, Elmendorf became an increasingly important base due to its proximity to the Soviet Union. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, Task Force 1-501 housed at Fort Richardson was upgraded into an airborne brigade to become the primary strategic response force in the Pacific Theater.

While Juneau is the official state capital of Alaska, there are actually more state employees who reside in the Anchorage area including current Governor Sarah Palin. Around 6,800 state employees work in Anchorage, compared to around 3,800 in Juneau. Federal government workers also include around 10,000, many related to federal lands management.

Many tourists are drawn to Alaska every year and Anchorage is commonly the first initial stop for most travelers. From Anchorage people can easily head south to popular fishing locations on the Kenai Peninsula or north to locations such as Denali National Park and Fairbanks. The economic impact of tourism and conventions in Anchorage totals around $150 million annually.

The resource sector, mainly petroleum, is arguably Anchorage's most visible industry, with many high rises bearing the logos of large multinationals such as BP and ConocoPhillips. While field operations are centered on the Alaska North Slope and in more southern areas around Cook Inlet, the majority of offices and administration are found in Anchorage. Around one sixth of jobs state-wide are related to this industry.

Sports-wise, The Sullivan Arena is not only home to UAA, but home to one professional hockey team the Alaska Aces of the ECHL. The city is also home to the Alaska Wild, an arena football team that began playing with the Intense Football League in April 2007. Anchorage's third professional franchise, which is scheduled to compete in the 2009-10 season, is the Alaska Dream, a basketball team in the ABA. UAA sponsors the annual Great Alaska Shootout, an annual NCAA Division I basketball tournament featuring colleges and universities from across the United States along with the UAA team. Anchorage holds the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, and was the U.S. candidate for hosting the 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics, but it lost to Albertville, France and Lillehammer, Norway respectively.

The Series
I haven’t seen UAA play this year, as Seawolves and the Pioneers (15-7-3, 11-5-2 WCHA) will meet for the first time of the season this weekend. With Denver currently leading the WCHA with 24 points, ranked (7th/8th) nationally and playing at home and the Seawolves ninth in the WCHA and unranked, the conventional wisdom would say that the Pioneers should be the better of the two teams this weekend.

However, the Pioneers are coming off a huge emotional letdown in Grand Forks, where they played well enough to split but came away with only a point and an embarrassing impression left by the ejection of DU coach George Gwozdecky. Gwozdecky will be under a school-imposed one game suspension for this Friday’s UAA Game after using a headset to communicate with his coaching staff after being ejected from the Staurday UND contest in the second period. “I want to apologize to the University of Denver and our hockey team for not having a thorough understanding of the NCAA game misconduct rule,” Gwozdecky said in a DU statement. “I respect the University’s decision to suspend me based upon the violation that occurred.” How they react to Gwozdecky's absence remains to be seen.

With DU associate coach Steve Miller behind the bench on Friday, The Pioneers come into the series led by sophomores Anthony Maiani (8-23-31) and Junior Rhett Rakhshani (11-13-24), while freshman Patrick Wiercioch leads the conference for rookie blueliners in goals (8) and points (19). In the crease, sophomore Marc Cheverie is tied for first in WCHA winning percentage (.660) and second in saves percentage (.917) and goals-against average (2.40). While the Pioneers will lack their best overall player in Tyler Bozak due to knee injury, the Pioneers should be still be able to beat UAA this weekend twice, but I do expect close margins

According to veteran UAA observer Donald Dunlop at his ‘UAA Fan Blog’, “DU fans will see a quite different UAA team than they've seen in the past. This year’s team has two primary identities. They are big. They can skate. The forward lines heights and weights read like an NHL roster ... 6'4" 210 -- 6'3" 200 -- 6'3" 203 -- 6'2" 190 -- 6'2" 198 -- 6'2" 202 -- and three other 6 footers….For the last two years under Coach Shyiak the cycle game has been the strategy of choice.

The Seawolves will continue to look to get the puck in deep and possess it while trying to work it to the front. But that isn't the lone offensive strategy. The Seawolves have become a better threat when countering than they have in the past. The number of goals in transition this year is up....UAA's goaltending stats are bad. It isn't a true reflection of either goalies abilities. They're better than their numbers. If the team in front of them plays up to their potential this weekend then Pio fans will see that as well.”

If Donald’s observations are correct, DU will likely try to counter UAA by using their team speed to offset UAA’s size advantage. DU likely also has more top end speed and talent than UAA does, so expect Denver to try and stretch the UAA defense in transition, much the way North Dakota did to Denver last Friday. UAA has historically frustrated the Pioneers with strong team defense and a relentless work ethic, and they’ll try to grind the Pioneers with their size. I expect DU will try to balance puck control with the need to shoot more often when they gain the offensive zone to take advantage of the saves percentages of the UAA goalies.

On paper, DU is eighth nationally in team offense, while UAA is 32nd. Defensively, DU is 15th, while UAA ranks 46th. DU’s power-play is 36th nationally, while UAA’s is 46th. On the penalty kill, DU ranks 15th while UAA is second-to-last nationally at 57th.

Prediction: DU 4, UAA 2 on Friday, Denver 2, UAA 1 on Saturday.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux

Ralph Engelstad Arena, Grand Forks, N.D, January 23-34, 2009

The Fourth-ranked University of Denver Pioneers (15-6-2, 11-4-1 WCHA) return to action at No. 15 North Dakota (14-10-2, 9-5-2 WCHA) this weekend. Puck drop is set for 6:37 p.m. MT on Friday, Jan. 23 and 6:07 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 24 at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Both games will be televised live on FSN Rocky Mountain and webcast live on Both games can be heard live on and 560 AM (Friday) and 101.5 FM (Saturday).

The Series: North Dakota holds a 128-110-7 advantage over DU in the series that dates back to 1950. DU is 39-78-4 all-time in Grand Forks, including a 3-3 mark in its last six contests at Engelstad Arena. DU is 2-3 in its last five games against UND and 5-5 in its last 10.

Fighting Sioux to watch North Dakota is one of the hottest teams in college hockey with a 10-2-1 mark in its last 13 games. The Fighting Sioux are led by Chay Genoway (2-22--24), Brad Miller (4-19--23) and 2007 Hobey Baker Award winner Ryan Duncan (10-9--19). Genoway and Miller rank third and fourth, respectively, in WCHA defenseman scoring. Freshman Brad Eidsness leads the team with a 14-7-2 record, 2.51 GAA and .908 Saves percentage.

About the University of North Dakota

The University of North Dakota (UND) is a public university in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Established by the Dakota Territorial Assembly in 1883, six years before the establishment of the state of North Dakota, UND now enrolls over 12,500 students and is the oldest and 2nd largest university in the state.

UND was founded as a university with a strong liberal arts foundation. Today, UND also offers a variety of professional and specialized programs, including the only schools of law and medicine in the state. UND is also known for its School of Aerospace Sciences which trains airplane pilots from around the world. UND has also been named a space grant institution.

Roughly half of the student body is from North Dakota with the remainder coming from around the nation and the world. UND's economic impact on the state and region is more than $1 billion a year and it is the second largest employer in the state of North Dakota, after the Air Force. Recently, UND has put an emphasis on research and currently specializes in research involving health sciences, nutrition, energy and environmental protection, aerospace, and engineering.

In 1883, Grand Forks native George H. Walsh submitted a bill to the Territorial Legislature of Dakota Territory that called for the new state of North Dakota's university to be located in Grand Forks. The university was viewed by many as the premier state institution to be given to a community; even more so than the state capitol. The first building at UND, Old Main, housed all classrooms, offices, dorm rooms, and a library. In the 1880s, UND consisted of only a few acres of property surrounded by farms and fields. At this time, the campus was nearly two miles west of the city of Grand Forks. Students living off campus had to take a train or a horse and carriage bus, dubbed the "Black Maria", from downtown to the campus.

Gradually, more buildings were constructed on campus and a trolley system was built to connect the growing university to downtown Grand Forks. However, there were several major interruptions in the life of the university. In 1918, UND was the hardest-hit single institution in the country by the flu epidemic which killed 1,400 people in North Dakota alone. Later that year, classes were suspended so the campus could become an army base for soldiers during World War I. During the Great Depression, UND provided free housing to students willing to do manual labor on campus.

After World War II, enrollment quickly grew to more than 3,000. A large amount of housing had to be built on campus as well as several new academic buildings, and by the 1960s and 1970s, many student protests occurred at UND. The largest occurred in May 1970 when over 1,500 students gathered to protest the Kent State shootings. In 1975, enrollment swelled to a record 8,500. The 1970s also saw the establishment of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at UND. The 1980s and 1990s were another period of growth for UND. However, the devastating 1997 Red River Flood inundated numerous buildings on campus and forced the cancellation of the remainder of the school year.

The start of the 21st century was marked by the opening of two major athletic venues for UND athletics. The Ralph Engelstad Arena which is used for hockey and the Alerus Center which is used for football both opened in 2001. Millions of dollars worth of construction and renovation projects have dotted the campus landscape in recent years. As part of a plan to improve student facilities on campus, UND has recently constructed a Wellness Center, a parking garage, and a new apartment-style housing complex. Today, issues facing UND include a move of its entire athletic program to Division I, ongoing discussions regarding the Fighting Sioux nickname, the fact that UND is located in a state with a shrinking population of potential students, and efforts to increase external contributions and funding.

About the Fighting Sioux Hockey Program

The University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux Hockey tradition is one of proudest and most successful Division I programs in the United States and is today, the top sports attraction in the entire State of North Dakota.

Hockey was first played on campus in 1929, when a team of UND students played local area teams, playing 16 games in the years between 1929 and 1936. John Jamieson re-established club hockey at after WWII, going 7-6 in 1946-47, but the varsity Fighting Sioux hockey tradition really began the next year as the product of two co-founders, the late Glenn “Red” Jarrett and the late Calvin Coolidge Marvin, the first of many Marvins to play at UND.

Jarrett, an All-American halfback on UND’s 1930 football team became the football coach and athletic director in the spring of 1947. Jarrett then decided to make the move to elevate club hockey to varsity status. UND and the city of Grand Forks did not immediately stand by Jarrett’s decision because UND already had two men’s sports in football and basketball.

Jarrett went ahead with his plan and got the Michigan athletic Director, the legendary Fritz Crisler, to agree to a two-game series against the Wolverines in Ann Arbor. Jarrett worked hard to line up a schedule with other established hockey programs and scheduled games with Minnesota, Colorado College, and Michigan Tech.

Marvin, a native of Warroad, Minnesota, recalled one of their early conversations: “Red said, ‘Cal get me a team, and I’ll get you a schedule. ‘I said, ‘Red, get me a schedule and I’ll get you a team.”

While Jarrett set up the schedule for the Sioux, Marvin worked tirelessly to recruit players from around North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota, mostly World War II veterans who had returned to campus. This was a glorified pickup team wearing used UND football jerseys and other makeshift equipment, but these men were not just any pickup team.

UND’s first collegiate game was at Michigan, the major powerhouse of the era, who went on to win the first NCAA hockey tournament in 1948 and six of the first nine titles awarded. The Sioux rode the train all the way to Ann Arbor, and at a rest stop in the Twin Cities, one University of Minnesota player told some UND players they’d “lose by 14 goals.” In actuality, behind the 34 save goal goaltending of Bob Murray, UND stepped up and played the mighty Wolverines to a 5-5 tie going into the final minute, when UND’s John Noah fired a shot into the Michigan goal with 46 seconds remaining to lift UND to its first ever varsity hockey win 6-5, -- its first win over a big 10 school in any sport. The win was so exciting that the UND band met the train in 28 below zero weather when the team returned to Grand Forks. The Sioux program was born in an unheated, natural ice rink and the first season, the Sioux compiled an 8-4 record against the top college teams that included Minnesota, Michigan, Colorado College, and Michigan Tech.

In 1953, UND built it’s first artificial ice arena, the 4,000 seat UND Winter Sports Building, a Quonset hut design better known as the “barn”. UND also began recruiting Canadian players to supplement the local players.

The early and mid 50s Sioux teams were generally winning teams, and were led by Sioux legends Ben Cherski and Bill Riechert, respectively, each of whom became three-time all Americans in the era before freshman eligibility.

By 1957-58, UND was a emerging into a powerhouse program in the WIHL (forerunner of today’s WCHA), and behind the balanced attack employed coach Bob May, the Sioux went 24-7-1 and earned a trip to Minneapolis for the 1958 NCAA Tournament. In the NCAA semifinal, seven different Sioux players scored as UND routed Harvard, 9-1 to earn a berth in the NCAA Championship Game at Williams Arena. The Sioux’s opponent in that title game was also making its first NCAA Tournament appearance, the University of Denver Pioneers. The Pioneers whipped the Sioux, 6-2, in the Championship Game, setting the stage for a rivalry between the schools that exists to this day.

The Sioux players wanted more success, and built their very own locker room over the next summer with donated lumber, and became even closer after the tragic summer hunting death of goalie Tommy Forrest, and the loss of two defensemen to academic ineligibility, All American Bill Steenson and Steve Thullner. The closeness paid off as UND went 20-10, and earned its second NCAA berth, at the Houston Field House in Troy, New York, where UND won its first national championship by virtue of two action-packed 4-3 overtime thrillers. Guy LaFrance's goal at 4:22 of sudden death overtime eliminated St. Lawrence in the NCAA semifinal game. In that game, Sioux legend Reg Morelli tallied a pair of goals, and Art Miller and Ed Thomlinson one each.

The next night against Michigan State in the title game, Morelli duplicated LaFrance's OT heroics when he scored a dramatic shot over the sprawling Spartan goalie, Joe Selinger, at 4:18 of the first overtime period, giving the Sioux a 4-3 win and their first of seven NCAA title trophies. It would be May’s final game as coach, as he later moved to Denver to help his handicapped daughter and later became a dentist.

In 1963, under new coach Barry Thorndycraft, a former May assistant, the Sioux agonizingly watched DU hoist the MacNaughton Cup as the Pioneers beat UND 5-4 in Denver for the WCHA playoff title, the team they had tied for the WCHA regular season title.

A week later, the Sioux got their revenge in McHugh Forum in Chestnut Hill, Mass., as UND first crushed host Boston College 8-2 in the semifinal round of the NCAA tournament. In the NCAA final against the Denver Pioneers, UND raced to a 5-2 first period lead, but the Pioneers came roaring back, only to fall to the Sioux, 6-5. Al McLean, who was named tourney MVP, scored the winning goal at 5:01 of the second period to lift UND to its second NCAA crown.

After a 4-3 loss to Boston College in the 1965 NCAA tourney in Providence, the Sioux rebounded to beat Brown 9-5 for third place at Brown’s home arena, Meehan Auditorium.

In 1966-67, the Sioux won the WCHA with a 19-10 overall slate, but in the NCAA tournament, were shut out, 1-0 by Ken Dryden, perhaps the best goalie in NCAA history.

The Sioux advanced to the 1968 NCAA tournament by beating home-standing Michigan Tech 3-2 in total goals. The first game was a 0-0 deadlock, the only scoreless tie in UND history. UND then went to the new arena in Duluth, Minn for the NCAA Frozen Four and got its revenge, toppling the great Ken Dryden and his Cornell team, 3-1 in the semifinal. In the Championship Game, the Sioux once again met the Denver Pioneers, who sought revenge for their 1963 loss to UND in the title game. The Pioneers, behind the shutout goaltending of Gerry Powers, cruised to a 4-0 shutout of the Sioux in the title game, the fourth NCAA title for the Pioneers, and the front end of a repeat Pioneer performance the next season, when DU beat Cornell and Dryden for DU’s fifth crown.

In recognition of the growth of Sioux hockey, in 1972, UND replaced the barn with a new arena, and dedicated its a new $2 million, 5800 seat Winter Sports Center by topping Colorado College 5-4 before a capacity crowd.

In 1979, UND won its first WCHA championship in 12 years by beating arch-rival Minnesota, coached by Herb Brooks, on the road 4-2 under the guidance of first-year head coach John "Gino" Gasparini. Gino’s boys then defeated Dartmouth 4-2 in Detroit's Olympia Stadium in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament on goals from Howard Walker, Erwin Martins, Mark Taylor and Cary Eades in the triumph. But Minnesota got revenge and edged the Sioux 4-3 on a Neal Broten goal in the NCAA title game. The defeat stung the Sioux, and hopes were high for a Championship the next year.

The next season, the Sioux would not be denied. They went 31-8-1, winning their final 14 games, crushing Michigan State and Notre Dame in the WCHA playoffs and earning a trip to the Providence Civic Center for the NCAA tournament. In the semifinal, the Sioux topped Carey Wilson’s excellent Dartmouth team, 4-1 on four third-period goals -- including two by Doug Smail, a fast forward from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan to earn a berth the in the NCAA title game against Northern Michigan, a team that had swept the Sioux earlier this season. With revenge on their minds, and a third NCAA trophy in their sights, the Sioux were able to overcome the loss of its best player and 92 point scorer, Mark Taylor, who broke his collarbone in the first period of the NCAA Final. All Smail did was double his two goal output in the semifinal with a four goal performance in the title game, including the first three goals of the game, as the Sioux never looked back, beating the Wildcats, 5-2 for the crown. Four Sioux players with eligibility remaining (Smail, Walker, Craig Ludwig and Mickey Volcan) all signed NHL contracts after that game.

Two years later, the Sioux were terrific again, going 35-12 overall, and returning to the NCAA Tournament once again. First UND crushed Northeastern in the semifinal 6-2, taking a 6-0 lead on goals by Glen White, Phil Sykes, Jim Archibald, Cary Eades, Troy Murray and Dusty Carroll.

The next night, the Sioux faced the rival defending NCAA Champion Wisconsin Badgers for the NCAA Crown. During a four year period between 1980 and 1983, the Sioux and Badgers each won two NCAA titles, and between the two teams on the ice in 1982, an amazing 21 players UND and UW went to play about 10,000 NHL games, including all six of UND’s freshman class (Jim Archibald, Gord Sherven, James Patrick, Rick Zombo and Dave Tippett). It may have been the greatest collection of talent to ever play in an NCAA title game.

While the two teams hated each other, especially after a major brawl earlier that season in Madison (the famous ‘water bottle incident’), the Sioux won their fourth national title by a 5-2 margin over Wisconsin after third-period goals by MVP Phil Sykes (2) and Cary Eades snapped a 2-2 tie. The Sioux were playing without regulars Tippett and Dave Donnelly, rolling three lines and counting on the goaltending of Darren Jensen, who recorded 23 saves for the victory and the fourth NCAA trophy for the case in Grand Forks.

UND returned to the NCAA’s in 1984, as the Sioux edged RPI at Troy, N.Y., 5-4 and 4-2, to advance to the NCAA semifinals in Lake Placid, N.Y., where they lost 2-1 in OT to Minnesota-Duluth, but rebounded to edge Michigan State 6-5 in OT on a goal by wing Dean Barsness to gain third place.

One of the memorable UND NCAA title teams was the 1986-87 squad, the high scoring “Hrkac Circus”, named for NCAA scoring leader Tony Hrkac (rhymes with circus), a Thunder Bay, Ontario native who racked up an NCAA record 116 points that season, a record that may never be broken with development of defensive hockey systems and goaltending since that era. The team was no slouch, either, racking up a then-NCAA record of 40-8, to win its fifth NCAA crown and third in just nine years with Gasparini behind the bench.

UND gained entry into the title match by virtue of a 5-2 victory over Harvard in the semifinals at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena. Freshman Brent Bobyck, junior Bob Joyce, sophomore Tony Hrkac, senior Mickey Krampotich and junior Steve Johnson notched Sioux goals in the triumph over the Crimson, while Ed Belfour made 37 saves in goal.

In the title contest before a largely pro-MSU crowd in Detroit, UND took a 3-0 first-period lead over Michigan State on goals by sophomore defenseman Ian Kidd, freshman Murray Barron and Joyce. The Spartans scored midway through the second period before Sioux senior Malcolm Parks made it 4-1. MSU cut it to 4-2 at the end of two periods, but Bobyck scored at 7:54 and MSU tallied a late goal to make the final a 5-3 North Dakota title victory, number five for the Sioux. Belfour has only 15 saves in the tight-checking games played before a then-NCAA tournament record crowd of 17,644. Hrkac is named winner of the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the top player in college hockey.

After the fifth NCAA Crown in 1987, The Sioux entered a period of slow, relative decline in the final seven years of Gasparini’s tenure, bottoming out in the early 1990s, when the Sioux suffered three rare losing seasons in a row, and Gasparini was forced to resign, leaving with 16 years in the position in 1994. He left UND with three NCAA titles and a 392-248-24 record to his credit.

In May of 1994, Dean Blais, a Sioux hockey assistant coach from 1980-89, was named UND's 14th head hockey coach. Under Blais, the Sioux won their first playoff series in four years when they swept St. Cloud State 3-2 and 5-2 at the National Hockey Center in the WCHA playoffs. UND advanced to the WCHA Final Five for the first time and dropped a tight-checking, 3-2 decision to Minnesota.

In 1997, a 6-2 win over Cornell in the NCAA West Regional tournament sent the WCHA Champion Fighting Sioux to the NCAA Frozen Four for the first time in 10 years. After whipping Colorado College 6-2 in the semifinals in Milwaukee, the Sioux advanced to the NCAA title game against Boston University.

In the championship game, BU jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period. But the Sioux stormed back in the second period scoring a total of five unanswered goals by Curtis Murphy, David Hoogsteen (2), and Matt Henderson (2) to finish the second with a 5-3 UND lead. BU scored a goal late in the third period to close the gap but Adam Calder iced the Sioux victory with an empty-net goal at 19:47 to make the final 6-4. Freshman netminder Aaron Schweitzer turned 25 Terrier shots aside for the Sioux’s sixth NCAA title, restoring the glory to the program.

In 1998 and 1999, the Sioux won the WCHA title both years with records of 32-6-2 and 31-8-5 respectively, but were upset both years in the NCAA regionals, with UND losing to lower seeded Michigan 4-3 at Yost Arena in 1998 in Ann Arbor, and Boston College in 1999, marking disappointing finishes for teams that expected to be Frozen Four caliber teams.

However, in 2000, the Sioux made up for the early exits of the previous two seasons by winning the school’s seventh NCAA title in Providence, RI, site of the 1980 Sioux title, and getting revenge on Boston College by beating the Eagles, 4-2 behind the play of tourney MVP Lee Goren and the goaltending of Karl Goehring, who shutout Maine, 2-0 in the semi-finals and only allowed two goals to BC. The Sioux had fallen behind 2-1 in the second period to BC, but answered the bell with three consecutive goals in the third period to gain NCAA Trophy #7.

In 2001, UND opened the 11,500 seat Ralph Engelstad Arena, a $100+ million palatial hockey arena, donated by former 1950s Sioux Goalie Ralph Engelstad. The regular 6,000 person crowd at Sioux essentially doubled overnight to the second largest attendance in the NCAA behind Wisconsin.

UND almost got to repeat with NCAA title in 2001, advancing to the NCAA title game against Boston College, and pushing into overtime tied at 2 goals each. But BC’s Krys Kolanos scored in OT to end the Sioux title hopes, and allowed BC a measure of revenge for the previous year, when UND knocked the Eagles out of the title game.

Despite some excellent teams since 2000, the Sioux have not been able to capture the NCAA title since that night in Providence, with Denver playing a huge part in the string of Sioux disappointments since 2000.

Perhaps the best Sioux team in recent memory, a team that was ranked #1 nationally and was the top seeded team in the nation in 2004, behind the play of high scoring Zach Parise, Brandon Bochenski and Brady Murray, dropped a 1-0 shutout heartbreaker to Denver in the NCAA regional in Colorado Springs behind the goaltending of Adam Berkhoel, who then led DU to the 2004 NCAA title.

Denver also deprived the Sioux of the title #8 in the 2005 NCAA Championship Game, as the Pioneers dumped UND 4-1 behind the play of Paul Stastny, Matt Carle and Peter Mannino, as DU won it’s seventh NCAA title, tying with UND for second all time behind Michigan’s nine titles. That Denver victory came in a hostile atmosphere of travelling Sioux fans, as Denver’s knockout out the Sioux in the 2004 NCAA regionals was followed by a controversial hit by Denver player Geoff Paukovich in the 2005 WCHA final five that broke the neck of Sioux defenseman Robbie Bina.

Last year, Denver also defeated the Sioux in the WCHA Final Five title game behind the late individual effort of Anthony Maiani, who scored a dramatic backhander after a long up-ice rush, as Denver won the Broadmoor Trophy.

Sioux Traditions

Nickname and Logo:The North Dakota Fighting Sioux is the name of the athletic teams of the University of North Dakota (UND) .The current Sioux logo is a Native American figure. The logo was designed by Bennett Brien, a local Grand Forks artist and UND graduate of Ojibwa ethnicity, and replaced earlier versions of a Native American figure, notably the Chicago Blackhawk logo that once adorned the Sioux Jerseys for many years, by special arrangement with the NHL club.

Nickname origin

UND's nickname was originally "The Flickertails", but was changed to "The Sioux" officially in 1930 ("Fighting" was added later). Guest editorials that appeared at that time in the Dakota Student (the UND student newspaper) noted that (1)"Sioux are a good exterminating agent for Bison" (the mascot of the nearby North Dakota State University team), (2)"They are warlike, of fine physique and bearing", and (3)"The word Sioux is easily rhymed for yells and songs". The choice of the name was also influenced by the Fighting Irish athletic teams of the University of Notre Dame (another "UND").

Nickname and Logo Controversy

Today, critics of the name say that it is a racist stereotype, while supporters maintain it is inoffensive and a source of pride. Over the years, the debate has proven to be a divisive issue at the University. The movement to keep the nickname and logo is led by UND alumni, sports fans, and athletic players and officials, as well as the present university administration. The campaign to change the nickname and logo is led by several Native American tribes and student organizations, as well as UND faculty members..

In 1999, the UND Student Senate passed a resolution calling for the end of the nickname, but it was vetoed by the student body president. That same year, a similar bill was introduced in the North Dakota House of Representatives, but died in committee. In 2000, twenty-one separate Native American-related programs, departments, and organizations at UND signed a statement opposing the continued use of the nickname and logo, saying that it did not honor them or their culture. Three tribal entities within the state (the Standing Rock Sioux, Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux, and Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation) have issued tribal resolutions denouncing the continued use of the name and logo.

In 1999, Former Fighting Sioux hockey player and wealthy alumnus Ralph Engelstad donated $100 million dollars for the construction of Ralph Engelstad Arena. This was one of the largest philanthropic donations ever made to a public institution of higher learning. During construction of the arena, Engelstad threatened to abruptly cease work if the nickname was changed. The day after receiving Engelstad's threatening e-mail, North Dakota State Board of Higher Education froze discussion on the issue by insisting that the team name remain the same. One of Engelstad's conditions for his donation was that the University keeps the Fighting Sioux name indefinitely. Engelstad placed thousands of Fighting Sioux logos in numerous places throughout the arena to make physical removal of the logo very costly if attempted. The arena opened in 2001.

The debate reignited in 2005, following a decision by the NCAA to sanction schools with tribal logos and/or nicknames, including UND, that the NCAA deemed to be "hostile and abusive." After more legal wrangling, on October 26, 2007, a settlement between UND and the NCAA was reached preventing the case from going to trial. The settlement gave UND three years to gain support from the state's Sioux tribes to continue to use the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo. If that support is not granted at the end of the three years, UND will retire the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, remove most of the existing Fighting Sioux imagery in campus facilities, and pick a new nickname and logo to represent UND's athletic teams.

As of November 2007, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has officially disapproved of the use of the Sioux logo. If their support cannot be approved by 2010, the Fighting Sioux name and logo will be retired.


Fight on Sioux, we're all for you

We're thousands of strong and loyal souls

We know you'll win every game you're in

No matter how distant the goals

As we go, we'll show each foe that

We're the toughest team between the poles

We're rough and tough it's true

But we're sportsmen through and through

We're the fighting Sioux from North Dakota U

Notable UND Alumni

Arts and Letters

Maxwell Anderson - Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, author, poet, reporter, and lyricist

Sam Anderson – actor “Perfect Strangers”

Nicole Linkletter - winner of reality show America's Next Top Model fifth season


Dave Christian - member of the 1980 Olympic ice hockey team that beat the USSR in the "Miracle on Ice" game

Phil Jackson - former NBA player and current coach

Jim Kleinsasser - current Minnesota Vikings NFL player

Ed Belfour - former NHL Goaltender

Murray Baron - former NHL Defensemen

Greg Johnson - former player in the NHL

Dave Tippett - former NHL Player and Current head coach of the Dallas Stars

Zach Parise - current New Jersey Devils player in the NHL

Jonathan Toews - current Chicago Blackhawks player in the NHL

Travis Zajac - current New Jersey Devils player in the NHL

Landon Wilson - current Dallas Stars player in the NHL

T.J. Oshie current St. Louis Blues player in the NHL

Jason Blake - current Toronto Maple Leafs player in the NHL

Drew Stafford - current Buffalo Sabres player in the NHL

Matt Greene - current Los Angeles Kings player in the NHL

Ryan Johnson - current Vancouver Canucks player in the NHL

Ryan Bayda - current Carolina Hurricanes player in the NHL

David Hale - current Phoenix Coyotes player in the NHL

Mike Commodore - current Columbus Blue Jackets player in the NHL

Brian Lee - current Ottawa Senators player in the NHL


Thomas Barger - geologist and former CEO of Aramco

Ralph Engelstad - former Las Vegas casino owner and UND philanthropist

Gregory R. Page - current president and CEO of Cargill

Sally J. Smith - current president and CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant chain

Law, politics, and government

Fred G. Aandahl - former governor of North Dakota and former U.S. Congressman

Dick Armey - former United States House of Representatives Majority Leader

Ronald Davies - former federal judge, ordered the integration of Little Rock Central High School

John E. Davis - former governor of North Dakota

Byron Dorgan - current U.S. Senator for North Dakota (also a DU alum)

Lynn Frazier - former governor of North Dakota and former U.S. Senator for North Dakota

William Langer - former governor of North Dakota and former U.S. Senator for North Dakota

John Moses - former governor of North Dakota and former U.S. Senator for North Dakota

Ragnvald A. Nestos - former governor of North Dakota

Allen I. Olson - former governor of North Dakota

Earl Pomeroy - current U.S. Representative for North Dakota

Ed Schafer - former governor of North Dakota and former United States Secretary of Agriculture under GW Bush (Also a DU alum)


Carl Ben Eielson - pioneer aviator

Karen L. Nyberg - NASA Astronaut

Vilhjalmur Stefansson - Arctic explorer

About Grand Forks

Grand Forks is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of North Dakota and the county seat of Grand Forks County. In July 2007, its population was estimated at 51,740 and it had an estimated metropolitan population of 97,691 Grand Forks, along with its twin city of East Grand Forks, Minnesota, forms the center of the Grand Forks, ND-MN Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is often called Greater Grand Forks or The Grand Cities.

Located on the western banks of the Red River of the North in an extremely flat region known as the Red River Valley, the city is prone to flooding and was struck by the devastating Red River Flood of 1997 Originally called Les Grandes Fourches by French fur traders, Grand Forks was founded in 1870 by steamboat captain Alexander Griggs and incorporated on February 22, 1881. Its location at the fork of the Red River and the Red Lake River gives the city its name.

Historically dependent on local agriculture, the city's economy now encompasses higher education, defense, health care, manufacturing, food processing, and scientific research.

Prior to settlement by Europeans or Americans, the area where the city now sits — at the forks of the Red River and Red Lake River — had been an important meeting and trading point for Native Americans. Early French explorers, fur trappers, and traders called the area Les Grandes Fourches meaning "The Grand Forks". By the 1740s, Les Grandes Fourches was an important trading post for French fur trappers. A U.S. post office was established on the site on June 15, 1870 and the name was changed to "Grand Forks." Alexander Griggs, a steamboat captain, is regarded as being "The Father of Grand Forks." Griggs' steamboat froze in the Red River on a voyage in late 1870, forcing the captain and his crew to spend the winter camping at Grand Forks. Griggs platted the community in 1875 and Grand Forks was officially incorporated on February 22, 1881. The city quickly grew after the arrival of the Great Northern Railway in 1880 and the Northern Pacific Railway in 1887. In 1883, the University of North Dakota was established, six years before North Dakota was formally recognized as an independent state born from the Dakota Territory.

The first half of the 1900s saw steady growth and the development of new neighborhoods farther south and west of Downtown Grand Forks. The 1920s saw the construction of the state-owned North Dakota Mill and Elevator on the north side of the city. In 1954, Grand Forks was chosen as the site for an Air Force base. Grand Forks Air Force Base brought thousands of new jobs and residents to the community. The military base and the University of North Dakota would become integral pieces of the city's economy. The second half of the 20th century saw Grand Forks spreading further away from the older part of town. Interstate 29 was built on the western side of the city and two enclosed shopping malls – South Forks Plaza and Columbia Mall – were built on the south side.

The city was struck by a severe flood in 1997, causing extensive damage. With Fargo upstream from the bulk of the waters and Winnipeg with its flood control structures, Grand Forks became the hardest hit city in the Red River Valley. During the height of the flooding, a major fire also destroyed eleven buildings in the downtown area. Many neighborhoods had to be demolished to make way for a new levee system, which was ultimately completed ten years later. The land bordering the Red River was turned into a massive park known as the Greater Grand Forks Greenway. Since the flood, Grand Forks has seen both public and private developments throughout town. Two new, large sports venues opened in 2001, including the Alerus Center and the Ralph Engelstad Arena. As of 2008, Grand Forks has a larger population than it did before the 1997 flood and area employment and taxable sales have also surpassed pre-flood levels.

The Series

This has makings of a close series. With DU leading the WCHA with 23 points and North Dakota tied for fourth with 20 points, DU is 7-0 in its last seven league games, while UND is 5-0-1 in its last six WCHA games, the usual physical, tough series is expected. UND swept DU 5-4 and 4-1 last season in a bloody beat down in Grand Forks, while DU got a nice measure of revenge with a 3-1 win in the semifinals of the 2008 WCHA Final Five in St. Paul, Minn.

UND has turned things around after a slow start and is starting to roll in the second half, destroying a very good Minnesota team two weeks ago in Grand Forks, and taking 3 of 4 road points in Houghton last week against MTU.

UND may be the only team in the WCHA with a comparable forward depth to DU with point producers on all four lines, and North Dakota has a seasoned defensive corps to back up a rookie goalie in Eidsness who is now rounding into a very good WCHA netminder.

With DU returning to action after having last weekend off, the fear in the Pio camp is one of rust. That said, the Pioneers lead the WCHA in scoring offense at 3.65 goals per game and scoring defense at 2.22 GPG, with the Sioux not far behind, and DU sports a four-game road winning streak after dropping its first three road contests this season.

On the upside, The Pioneers are 9-3-1 against ranked opponents, and DU is 14-1 when scoring three or more goals,12-1-1 when scoring first. Du also has 10 players with 13 or more points. Amazingly, the Pioneers are 7-1 when outshot by opponents.

North Dakota keys are likely to center on establishing a forecheck and trying to grind down the Pioneers by rolling four lines and making the Pioneers pay for every inch of ice with tenacity. Genoway is the key to making UND go in transition and on the power play, and I think the Pioneers will also have their eyes on emerging Sioux rookie Jason Gregoire, who verbally committed to play for the Pioneers, but reneged on his verbal commitment to play at UND.

Denver may have a slight edge in top end offensive talent, but UND may have more overall depth. UND will have a slight defensive edge on home ice, and Cheverie is a shade above Eidsness right now in goaltending. For DU to be effective in Grand Forks, it will need more leadership from upperclassmen and smart play to deal with what is always a physically and mentally difficult environment in Grand Forks.

All in all, I think Denver is good enough to win once, but not deep enough to win twice.

Prediction: Split.