Thursday, February 21, 2013

UND vs. Denver; College Hockey’s Hatfield-McCoy feud

Fighting Sioux (University of North Dakota) vs...
Fighting Sioux (University of North Dakota) vs. Denver Pioneers (University of Denver, #14 Tom May), WCHA Final FIVE 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This season, since the NHL lockout has been over, NBC Sports Network has been doing a weekly rivalry game on Wednesdays nights between the various NHL teams.
This Friday night, there will be another rivalry game on NBC Sports Network between college hockey’s versions of the historicHatfield-McCoy feud.
Actually, both games will be on television this weekend, when the University of North Dakota (16-8-6, 11-5-6 WCHA) travels to Denver, Colorado to play their heated rival the Denver Pioneers (15-9-5, 10-7-5 WCHA) in a pivotal two game series, this series will go a long way in determining seeding for the WCHA playoffs.
As I mentioned earlier, Friday’s game will be on NBC Sports Network at 9:00 PM (CT) and Saturday’s game will be on Root Sports at 8:00 (CT).
Also at stake this weekend, is the all-important Pairwise rankings. A couple of wins would solidify either team’s standings for the NCAA playoffs and a couple of losses could knock you down a place or two.
Over the course of the last ten seasons North Dakota and Denver have had some entertaining games.
If you go on and conduct a search, you would literally find hours of videos of goals, scrums and dustups between Denver and North Dakota.  I can only imagine that we will be able to add a few more videos to that collection when this weekend is over.
North Dakota and Denver have a history in the playoffs and the Green and White have beaten DU in the final game of the last two WCHA Final Fives. North Dakota also has a 7-2-0 record the last 10 games against Denver.
One could say that it’s gut check time, but it’s also crunch time as well.
Freshman forward Rocco Grimaldi, who has played in a series against the Denver Pioneers earlier in the season at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, was asked why he thought the games between the Denver Pioneers and North Dakota were so intense.
“I think both teams are extremely competitive and well coached,” Grimaldi said. “Overall good teams offensively and defensively, the better the games are the more you build a rivalry with that team, I guess. When you have good games all the time, when you play someone, eventually rivalries are built.”
Senior forward Danny Kristo was more to the point when asked about the rivalry between the two teams.
“I think Mac [Andrew MacWilliam] hates these guys the most,” Kristo said. “I don’t need to beat around the bush but I don’t think our coaching staffs like each other too much, either. Obviously, both teams have a lot of respect for each other because both teams are always there at the end of the year.”
During an earlier series between the two teams, sophomore forward Steph Pattyn had this to say about playing against the Denver Pioneers.
“It’s kind of a personal rivalry for a couple of our guys,” Pattyn said.  “I know that Mac [Andrew MacWilliam] just really doesn’t like these guys.”
This is a series that gets everyone’s blood boiling. The fans of both teams love these games. The coaches and players involved in this rivalry love the games as well. You can bet that all of the body-checks will be finished, when these two teams meet this weekend. Emotions will run high, and you can also count on a few dust-ups and scrums happening between the two teams.
When it’s all said and done, the team that plays with the most discipline will probably prevail this weekend.
Denver is leading the WCHA in penalty minutes with 496 and that total could be a lot higher when the weekend is over. North Dakota is sitting in number three spot with 475.
Let the feud, err, I mean rivalry begin.

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