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Before we go any further, obviously Minnesota and North Dakota will play next season and there’s potential for postseason meetings between now and the split-up of the WCHA in 2013, but college hockey’s best rivalry is taking a huge turn after next season.

This weekend’s series, in fact, was the last one in Grand Forks with the teams facing off as conference opponents. The 2012-13 matchup will take place in Minneapolis. The two programs need to find a way to make sure this series is played each and every single season, alternating the location every year.

Anyone who watched the series should agree. The body checks, the extracurricular activity, the animosity between the two benches and the hockey itself, make the rivalry worth the hype.

The cheap shots and the dirty hits can just as well be left behind but we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t acknowledge that they draw us in.

And on the topic of those particular hits, Danny Kristo’s hit on Minnesota’s Ben Marshall in Friday’s game was a filthy hit and the right Kristo threw across the back of Marshall’s head, to boot. One would think it would be hard to argue against a five-minute major but Kristo managed to do it. After pleading with officials, he ran down the tunnel, whacked his stick against the wall and returned to the bench to bark a little more.

Mark Alt’s check from behind on Michael Parks Saturday was your textbook check from behind and possibly the easiest call for Don Adam’s crew all weekend (easier for them to decide what is and isn’t icing and or when to blow the whistle when a goalie does or doesn’t cover up the puck). Alt’s illegal hit had a lot more potential for damage and injury than Kristo’s but Kristo’s hit (punch included) looked like it had more malicious intent.

Mario Lamoureux didn’t do his reputation any favors when he got on top of Joey Miller during the ensuing melee and threw a few punches to the face after Miller pulled him off of Alt, who skated from the penalty box to the tunnel without incident.

You could say UND assistant captain Ben Blood only wanted to cap off a wild weekend with a few more fireworks or that he plays intense to the final buzzer (and beyond), but it was plain to see he plain and simply lost his head and became unraveled after the Gophers won 6-2 Saturday.

He took a slapshot as time ran out that hit Seth Ambroz, the two got together at center ice and tripped backward when the refs went in to break it up. It seemed the 6-foot-4 Blood would take on any willing Gopher at the time, but waited until he got to 5-8 Kyle Rau in the handshake line to throw a sucker.

Now, Rau was lucky to have Ambroz right there to back him up, he’s a known chirper on the ice and it’s possible he said something suggestive about Blood’s dog, but Blood’s actions were classless.

There’s no room for donnybrooks in the handshake line, but that’s the kind of stuff that keeps all of us going to YouTube relive the memories.

Based on what’s been reported, UND coach Dave Hakstol seems more on board with the continuation of the rivalry. Hakstol told the Star Tribune he envisions a home-and-home series over a three-day span with a day for travel in between.

Minnesota coach Don Lucia also wants to continue the rivalry but said nonconference scheduling issues could keep the teams apart in competition. NCHC teams could play 28 conference games if they play the other seven NCHC teams twice. That leaves four weekends for nonconference action.

According to the Star Tribune’s Roman Augustoviz, UND  will play Wisconsin twice per season when the Badgers go to the Big Ten and Minnesota has locked in Notre Dame for four seasons.

But if these two programs consider everything that went on this weekend and the history of a rivalry that’s been hot for decades, they’ll do the right thing and keep it rolling.

Template set for beating Minnesota-Duluth

It was attempted 17 consecutive times by nine teams and all 17 efforts were met with failure. We’re speaking, of course, of Minnesota-Duluth’s 17-game unbeaten streak (14-0-3) which met its end on Saturday night at the hands of Nebraska-Omaha by a final score of 3-1.

To give you some perspective, UMD’s last loss came eight days before Tim Tebow’s first game as Denver’s starting quarterback in 2011.

UMD’s loss to the Mavericks was its first since falling to Minnesota 5-4 on Oct. 15.

Although the scores were unique to each game, enough similarities exist between the two which reveals a relatively simple formula to taking down UMD:

Hot goaltending, opportunistic scoring, and great penalty killing.

UNO freshman goaltender Ryan Massa stopped 43 of 44 UMD shots on Saturday while the Mavericks scored on three of their 15 shots on Kenny Reiter and held the Bulldogs scoreless on five power play opportunities.

Three months ago the Gophers’ Kent Patterson denied the Bulldogs 46 times on 50 attempts as his teammates were 5 for 16 in shooting against Reiter and killed five out of six UMD power plays.

It’s like we said. Simple.

On a series side note, UNO has been utilizing a trio of goaltenders this season in Massa, senior John Faulkner, and freshman Dayn Belfour, although Massa (12 games) and Faulkner (10) have received the bulk of the playing time. Nebraska-Omaha coach Dean Blais told us early last month that he would ride the hot hand down the stretch.

With the season beginning to wind down and with Faulkner not even dressing on Saturday after dropping Friday’s 6-2 decision, it seems plausible Blais would be inclined to turn over the keys to Massa at least for the foreseeable future.

Revitalized Zucker sparks Denver sweep

While we’re still not convinced Jason Zucker should not have been in Denver last weekend, it is hard to argue that the time off didn’t produce an invigorated effort from the Pioneers’ star forward over the weekend. Zucker registered five critical points (2 goals, 3 assists) in DU’s sweep (6-3, 3-2) of Bemidji State at Magness Arena.

“He’s just a great player; he’s one of the best players in the league, and maybe the most explosive player in college hockey,” BSU coachTom Serratore told USCHO’s Candace Horgan after the game. “You have to try to keep those guys in check, or at least only allow them one point or so.”

But not only were the Beavers unable to keep Zucker off the score sheet, he had two helpers on Friday, including the first assist on Drew Shore’s game winner. The following night, Zucker led his team back from a 2-1 third-period deficit as he set up Chris Knowlton’s goal to tie the game 2-2 and scored the winning goal on a power play with 8:10 to play.

Zucker’s Saturday performance was magnified by the absence of Denver’s leading scorer, Drew Shore, who was held of the series finale with a lower body injury suffered on Friday in a game he finished with five points (2-3=5).

  • ILUVCATS503

    i would have the classic be all minnesota teams in 2013 goghers and NCHA AND WCHA MINNESOTA TEAMS 

  • BulldogsFan

    “Hot goaltending, opportunistic scoring, and great penalty killing”.  Wow so that’s the template for beating UMD.  Newsflash that’s the template for beating ANY team. Its almost comical to read that quote.  Oh..you also forgot to mention it’s really important to score more goals than your opponent. 

    • You lost one game in 18 it will be ok!

    • Brian Halverson

      What is truly comical is your failure to recognize something written tongue-in-cheek. Obviously that’s the way to beat anybody, I was trying to have some fun with it. Life is too short and your ‘Dogs are too good to be so serious.

      • BulldogsFan

        I’m too serious?  I was laughing when I wrote that comment. Trust me I’ve followed these Bulldog for a long time and remember so incredibly long seasons so I’ve learned not to get to worked up over the ‘Dogs.  My comment wasn’t an attack on your article it was more of an observation of the obvious.    

  • guest

    What about the other 3 series last weekend? Some recap…

  • Anonymous

    Which 4 Minnesota teams would you take though? There’s 5 right now with a 6th on the way…

    • BulldogsFan

      I would rather see the Bulldogs and Gophers play every year in a home and home series.  Let BSU, Mankato and St. Cloud play the Gophers in the Minnesota version of the Beanpot.   

      • mrjakep

        All MN tournament! Would be a blast! Could you expand to six teams and still get it done in a weekend? Next problem is world juniors always takes players!

        • BulldogsFan

          I still don’t think MSU-Moorhead will be starting a program.  I hope I’m wrong but I just don’t see it so I think your stuck at 5 teams.  With SCSU and UMD going to the National they will already be seeing each other 4 times in league play.  Plus, I would assume this tourney would be played at the “X” so the Gophers can claim its a neutral site, which in reality it’s not.  My guess is most Bulldog fans would agree they would rather see a 2 game series against the Gophers than a MN tourney with the Bulldogs involved. 

          • Dfulcher

            Couldn’t agree with you more.  As a Bulldog fan I have very little interest in this type of set up.  Sorry, but I’d like to see those teams in Duluth instead of at the X. 

          • Anonymous

            No offense to the other MN teams but a tournament without the Bulldogs would be a soft tournament. Think of the revenue stream if there was a tournament at the Xcel.. or even outdoors at Target Field. 

          • Good point GoldyTheGreat!  Everything boils down to revenue!  (Big Ten)  Sorry!  Without Duluth or UND, the Xcel and Target Field would both laugh at the idea!

          • Anonymous

            My point about the Revenue Stream was alluding to the benefits of all teams involved in a tournament. The Gophers have money already but other Universities would definitely benefit from a tournament. Oh and trust me.. We don’t need UND involved for a successful tournament. 

          • Fan Man

            What an ignorant piece of work you are goldy the goon!  Edina Cake eater I presume?  All about $$$$$

          • Anonymous

            Lol. I’m not from Edina and anyone who’s from the Twin Cities knows Edina is no different from any other suburb. It’s well documented that smaller Universities like Mankato/Bemidji will lose revenue without the Gophers/Badgers/Bulldogs etc. visiting their arenas which is unfortunate in tough Economic times. This is echoed by my close friends and coworkers who are Mankato, Bemidji alumni that I talk to regularly. I take a lot of pride in Minnesota Hockey and like to see all Minnesota teams succeed except for when they play my hometown team that I’ve followed for 25 years which is only normal. That’s what I was alluding to when talking about revenue but it’s obviously been misconstrued.

          • I heard from a un-linkable source that there are goalie helmets already being made to show off what the Dragons (what the hell) will look like.  I don’t now what water that holds but I think it’s more of a real possibility than we might think!

  • What a great series between MN and UND!  Lived up to all the hype!

    Couldn’t agree more that I would love the series to continue but I hate to say it; the passion from this intense rivalry will be lost once the teams are no longer in the same conference!
     
    So what are we holding on to?  The Big Ten (along with others) have changed the face of college hockey forever and there isn’t a whole lot fans can do about it!  Gotta fill that Friday night schedule on the Big Ten Network!  What if they pulled this stunt with Hockey East and pulled BC and left BU hanging!  

    I am not against playing UND form time to time by any means, but to try and say we are gonna keep the rivalry going; in my opinion, will only diminish arguably the greatest college hockey rivalry ever!

    Neil Young said it right”It’s better to burn out, than to fade away.”

  • Soundvision909

    Where is scott reed when I need to say I told you so. Or at least I said it before and UND vindicated me. Great series out of the um/und schools this year. It will be missed.

  • Anonymous

    Replace the Mariucci Classic with a Minnesota College Hockey Showcase.  Play it over a holiday weekend.  It would be a great fundraiser for all schools involved.  There are enough alumuni and current students from all schools that live in the Twin Cities so it would be a  pretty good draw.  It would be better than the Gophers vs Niagra  There’s the Bean Pot and the GLI so why not make something like this work in MN.  Easier said than done.  I’m sure the MN schools not in the same conference will probably end up playing each other anyways on fairly regular basis – but it would be nice to get the gang together for bragging rights. 

    • mntopscollege

      my thoughts as well. mariucci classic is really boring overall. get a little tournament with duluth, UND and bemidji or nebraska-omaha. maybe even do it outdoors like they do out east every year. would be awesome and tickets would fly like hotcakes but yeah them other teams may be bored with that idea after playing each other alot so maybe toss in wisconsin too then

  • phuk the gophers!!! hehehe…

    • nogofer

      AG:  Come on, WE are above this…

  • oh and anything that happens on the ice is here say. so to these bafoons who write the wcha articles, you guys need to watch the tape. Blood only retaliated to a gopher who got in a cheap shot after time expired. The handshake ordeal could have amounted from anything, but to just simply point blame and call out Ben Blood is ridiculous.   Long Live The FIGHTING SIOUX!!!!!!!

    • WCHA Fan

      Regardless of what did or did not happen before the handshake line, nothing like that should have occurred during the line.  Ben Blood is a classless goon.  He fits right in at The University Formally Known as the Sioux.

  • jsiiter55

    “…the Mavericks scored on three of their 15 shots on Kenny Reiter…”

    I believe there was an empty net goal that was scored by the Mavs on Saturday night.

  • BearMan2006

    At the end of the day ask yourself if it really matters.  Maine swept the then number 3 team in the nation and now they’ve swept the number two team.  Now those two Boston based teams are rank 5th and 3rd respectively after being swept by Maine, but where does Maine rank?  15th.  Yes.  15th. Pairwise puts Maine at 10th – and that’s with the early season let downs that you can make the case could be taken into consideration when ranking the team, but really shouldn’t rankings be based on both pairwise rankings and team performance today?  Ohio State has completely collapsed and they still outrank Maine. Cornell wouldn’t be mid-pack in Hockey East and they’re ranked above Maine.  This Maine team is the hottest in the country right now – it should be top 5 ranked.  Whitehead haters should be less concerned with him and more concerned at who’s phallus needs attention in order to get a decent ranking in College hockey.

    • Joe C

      Regular season “rankings” do not matter, especially the swings caused by four games played.

      Maine at 10th in the Pairwise is a good place to be. If the Black Bears maintain that, they make the NCAA tournament, where the only rankings are determined at the end of the game. Maine beat BU twice at Agganis, with a couple of well-played low-score results. BU has FIVE first place votes in last week’s polls, which was five too many in this BU fan’s opinion. Then, with all the “dominant” talk from the writers, you just knew it would not be the case. There is no “dominant” Hockey East team this year. There are five really good teams.

    • Anonymous

      I was surprised as you were that Maine did not garner more respect in the online poll. BU, BC, and MC in the 3,4,5 slots… Really?? BC has been skidding horribly and barely beat the 8 seed HE team this weekend. Cornell is a joke, which the pairwise reflects, but to put them ahead of Maine anywhere is ludicrous!
      We should have won 2 of the 3 games against Merrimack which would have made a big difference in the pairwise. But the 10 slot is a good spot I think as more than one of the teams ahead of them are overrated and our boys will still be hungry to prove that they belong in the top 5…..

      • Blinky The Wonder Chimp

        Belong in the top 5?  I hope you’re talking about being top 5 Hockey East and not the country.  Maine top 5 in the country?  LOLLOLOLOLOLOLOL.

  • After Further Review

    Thank you, Tim Low and Jack Millea!  The BC hockey program was heading South quickly, then you two helped out.  Right after UNH scored to take a 3-2 lead on Friday night and we were staring another loss in the face, stripes to the rescue.  With 3+ minutes left, a penalty, allowing us to tie the game and eventually win.  Then Mr. Millea went one step further, on Saturday.  Putting the whistle away from the half way mark of the third period until 2:17 gone in OVERTIME, then you again saved us with the PP.  Luckily we didn’t let you down and scored on it.
    Both were tripping calls (not something like boarding, hit from behind, contact to the head, etc…) and could have easily been let go, as many had been until then.  Though, they were legit penalties.  But, after a couple of well played games and the calls stopping as the time wound down, they were made at just the right time!
    Thank you again.
    Yours Truly,
    Jerry York

    Sorry for the rant, the FRUSTRATION is setting in and even when this team comes to play and does what it takes to get a win, it just doesn’t happen.  I am not a sore loser, nor am I one to blame the refs, it’s just getting old this year.  I am also not trying to take anything away from BC as they did play well both nights too.

    Congrats to Maine and keep up the good work.

    • Blinky The Wonder Chimp

      Oh no, the refs called a penalty on the UNH Skating Mother Theresas!  Give me a break.  Both late calls on UNH were the right call.  Do the rules not matter after 50 minutes?  55 minutes?  10 minutes?

      UNH scored their 2nd goal after a terrible missed tripping call as a BC player was about to skate out of the zone.

      And UNH had a golden opportunity on a terribly BLOWN call on Alber with 10 mins left in regulation.  UNH blew it with a bad PP. 

      So sorry.  Better luck next year.

  • Joe C

    BU was over-ranked at number 2 in the country with 5 first place votes last week. They got there because so many other teams had a bad weekend. Then they had a bad weekend, getting outplayed by Maine. Maybe my Terriers were too busy getting ready for the Beanpot, but give full credit to the Black Bears. As much as I love BU, they were not the dominant team being written about the past two weeks. They are a very good team with flaws, just like BC, Maine, Merrimack and Lowell, in no particular order. 

    The top of Hockey East this year truly is an old-fashioned cage match, with Maine returning to the group and Lowell/Merrimack filling the void left by UNH. Any of the five top teams could run away with the regular season title, or get bounced in the first round of the Hockey East tournament. The regular season could also end with a bunch of teams separated by 2-4 points, with tournament winner possibly being the 4/5 seed.

  • Anonymous

    Even if Maine wins out, which this team is definitely capable of, they have just one game remaining against a TUC; combined with their early-season losses to TUCs, they are not likely to stay in the top-16 PWR.

    They are probably going to need to advance to the HEA championship game to make the PWR math work.  That’s gonna be very difficult if they don’t snag home ice for the playoffs….

    • Anonymous

      Remember Merrimack still has 3 games with Lowell and two with BC left to play. I think there will be some shaking up of hockey east before the end of the regular season…..

  • TooBad

    Sorry Flopper, 2nd best offense in the country at home in the Alfond is going to make UAH look like they don’t belong in DI hockey.  And that’s why they are closing up shop this year.