Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Top Ten Hockey Rivalries

6. Minnesota vs. North Dakota

Minnesota leads 132-116-11 according to Minnesota, 124-115-11 according to North Dakota
Distance apart: approx. 310 miles
WCHA tournament titles won: Minnesota 12, North Dakota 7
NCAA titles won: North Dakota 7, Minnesota 5

In another fierce border-battle, this time between two Western powerhouses, Minnesota comes out on top in the number of WCHA titles won, while the Fighting Sioux have the upper hand with regards to NCAA championships. To really get a perspective on the magnitude of where these rivals stand in the national picture, just think — one of these two schools has played in the NCAA title game in six of the last nine seasons dating back to 1996-97.

Speaking of title games, the Golden Gophers and Fighting Sioux went head-to-head in one back in 1979. Minnesota won that meeting 4-3, claiming their third NCAA title. No worries for the Sioux, though. They'd have plenty more opportunities.

Any PETA supporters reading this may want to skip this next part. Lore has it that, in the distant past, some more dynamic Sioux fans have gone to the extent of throwing dead gophers onto the ice as a welcome to the visiting Minnesota squad. From what I gather, this was a limited practice that has long since been shunned by University of North Dakota.

"The students have some interesting ways of expressing themselves during a big game," said Dan Benson, North Dakota's director of athletic media relations. "The dead gopher-tossing was something that happened a long time ago, long before I began working here. The school quickly put a stop to that kind of behavior."

And it's a good thing they did. It's all fun and games until somebody gets a dead gopher in the eye. Fortunately, no gophers were harmed in the writing of this article.

2. Minnesota vs. Wisconsin

Minnesota leads 142-75-15 according to Wisconsin, 142-74-15 according to Minnesota
Distance apart: approx. 224 miles
WCHA tournament titles won: Minnesota 12, Wisconsin 11
NCAA titles won: Minnesota 5, Wisconsin 5

Not only one of the greatest rivalries in college sports, but sports in general, the Gophers-Badgers hockey rivalry is the stuff of legend. However, it wasn't until the 1970s, under the legendary coaching reigns of Bob Johnson at Wisconsin and Herb Brooks at Minnesota, that things got really hot. During that decade, Minnesota won the NCAA title three times under Brooks, in 1974, '76 and '79, while Bob Johnson's Wisconsin teams won in 1973, and '77. We're all very familiar with what Herb Brooks would accomplish with the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" team after leaving Minnesota. Bob Johnson would continue coaching at Wisconsin until 1981-82, adding one more title to his credit in 1981 when the two schools met head-to-head in the NCAA championship game in Duluth. The Badgers traveled back across the state line with a 6-3 win and a championship trophy, leaving a trail of disappointed Gopher fans in their wake.

"Essentially, what's at stake are major bragging rights in one of the most hotly contested border battles in all of sports," said Badger fan Brad Ostermann. "I'd say the UW-UM rivalry is even bigger than the Packers-Vikings. They can take their 10,000 lakes and shove 'em! Go Badgers!"

In addition to bragging rights, this long-standing rivalry now comes complete with its own hardware. Similar to the Michigan-Michigan State Challenge Cup, as of the 2004-05 season the Border Battle Cup is awarded to the school taking home the most points in head-to-head competition of 11 sports. Wisconsin won the inaugural year's competition, though the Gophers beat them in hockey with a 3-1 overall season record. Also similar to the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry, Wisconsin will host Ohio State in the second major hockey game to be played outdoors on a football field in the United States. In February of 2006 the Badgers will play the Buckeyes on Green Bay's Lambeau Field, with a seating capacity of 71,000. I'm sure it'll be a great draw, but one has to wonder why Wisconsin doesn't bestow the honor of such a landmark game on their archrivals, the Gophers. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

1. Anybody vs. Gophers

Time and time again we see EVERYBODY say this is a BIG weekend. That is why it is a pleasure being a GOOF fan. EVERYBODY thinks beating the GOOF's is huge. Is NorthDakanada/CC huge? NOPE! Is Wisc/NorthDakanada HUGE? NOPE! Is BU/MN huge? YUP! Is MichTech/MN HUGE? Yup!

Ask their fans!!!!!! Oh and look at the stands. They are filled EVERY TIME the GOOF's come to town.

I added dggoddard's DU Pioneer BLOG site link! Check it out!

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