Wednesday, January 23, 2013

One step back, before we move forward (UND vs. UMN)

Goldy Gopher, University of Minnesota-Twin Cit...
Goldy Gopher, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities mascot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is the big story that is making it’s way around Twitter this afternoon. From the looks of it, Minnesota Gophers beat writer Roman Augustoviz must have listened to Gophers head coach Don Lucia on WCCO radio last night. So, after a great weekend of hockey and after being asked about the rivalry probably hundreds of times, I guess he’s tired of being asked about the rivalry.
Roman Empire — Gophers coach Don Lucia used his weekly radio show on Monday to defend himself from critics complaining that North Dakota won’t be on the U’s schedule the next three seasons.
“We have a rule at the University of Minnesota — not put in by me — but by the regents that we can not play a team with an Indian nickname,” Lucia said. “And for years, this controversy with North Dakota and the nickname has been going on. And it has been fought in the courts and everything else.
“And it did not get settled until this summer. Well — if you want to put the blame on me for not waiting to find out whether it was going to get settled or not, then so be it. I can accept that fact.
“I wasn’t going to wait. When the conferences all broke up a couple of years ago. And we were heading into all these new conferences, it was kind of a frenzy and free-for-all for scheduling nonconference games. And when we had the opportunity to schedule some good opponents — I could have waited, but I chose not to wait. But I wanted to ensure we had a good schedule for our fans and our team.”
Whether you believe their company line or not, that’s up to you. It is what it is. This is what the Gophers head coach is saying, and he’s sticking to it. Hey whatever, we could discuss this till we are blue in the face if we want, but Lucia isn’t giving in. That being said, I can tell you that many in the UND fan-base are cynical. If you read some of the newspaper articles and hockey sites from this past weekend, you will see that not everyone was buying into this either. [click to view] and [click to view]
But I digress.
I have to admit that I am sad that this past weekend was the last regular season conference match-up between the two teams, maybe for some time. Such is life. Life is full of disappointments. I do think some fans are a bit delusional if they think that they can just replace the historic UND vs. UMN series with another random series against another hockey team and get the same intensity that this historic series has.
While there are currently no future games scheduled between the two teams, at least in the immediate future, there’s a very good chance that the two teams could meet again in the NCAA Playoffs. History tells us that there is a very good chance the two teams will see each other again, probably in the next year or two. Both teams have a history, and have met three times in the last eight years in the NCAA tourney, with UND holding a 2-1 edge.
It’s also a shame that a once great hockey conference is going to be a shell of it’s former self starting next season, but that is really something we can no longer control as well. These types of decisions are made by the folks that are paid big money to make these kinds of decisions, and they don’t always do what the fans want.
Finally, I also think that the players are going to miss this historic series as well. If  you don’t believe me, all you have to do is look at the comments from Gopher forward Nate Condon who was named WCHA Offensive Player of the week after he had a five point (2g-3a—5pts) weekend against UND.
I guess for now, the series will have to wait, and all we can do is hope that cooler heads prevail. I think eventually the rivalry will resume play, sooner rather than later.

Originally posted at the Hockey Writers - Combine.
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