Opinion corner: Liking the new nameIf you’ve attended any UND home games this season, you probably noticed the words “North Dakota Hockey” taking the place of “Fighting Sioux Hockey” in many areas.
By: Mark Schuttenhelm For the Sun, The Jamestown Sun
If you’ve attended any UND home games this season, you probably noticed the words “North Dakota Hockey” taking the place of “Fighting Sioux Hockey” in many areas.
Most noticeable would be the lettering on the outside of the Ralph, which now says “Home Of North Dakota Hockey.” Much of the clothing is also heading in that direction. It took me awhile to think this through a bit, but I’ve come to a surprising conclusion. I like it. That’s right, I said it. And that’s coming from a longtime, dedicated supporter of the Fighting Sioux nickname.
It’s true, no doubt, that many of us continue to refer to the UND hockey team as “The Sioux,” at least in private conversation. But officially, at least, those days are over. “North Dakota Hockey,” it seems to me, does a good job conveying the pride we have in the program.
This unofficial, temporary name really has potential, and I hope it catches on. In fact, I might be in favor of forgoing the adoption of a new nickname when the time comes. Just call the program North Dakota Hockey, or UND for short. I’ll just ask the question. Does anybody think it’s possible to come up with a better nickname than “Fighting Sioux,” or a nicer logo than the one we just gave up? It’s not likely. Do we want the hockey program we support to be named after an animal, a weather system, or even one of Teddy Roosevelt’s Roughriders? Just a little food for thought this week.
WCHA Recap & Analysis
The big series last weekend was the Border Battle between Wisconsin and Minnesota, with the added bonus of a Sunday outdoor game at Soldier Field in Chicago. It’s safe to say the Minnesota contingent probably didn’t see it as a bonus, as the poor ice condition really slowed down the Gophers usual fast pace. I enjoy the atmosphere and nostalgia of the outdoor games, but when the ice is bad, as it certainly seemed to be for the Gopher game Sunday, that’s a huge negative as far as I’m concerned. I don’t enjoy watching a talented, great skating team like Minnesota reduced to mucking and grinding out there because the ice stinks. In any event, the series was split with Minnesota winning Friday night in Madison and the Badgers taking the outdoor game, both by 3-2 scores. … Minnesota State continued its solid play by sweeping Michigan Tech, 4-2 and 6-1. … Nebraska-Omaha grabbed a pair at Anchorage, needing OT to take the second game and complete the sweep. … St. Cloud State has now played the toughest schedule in the nation, followed by UND and Colorado College. A mere six points separate the top seven teams in the WCHA standings, so with three weeks left in the regular season, let’s take a look at those standings, the remaining schedules, and handicap the home stretch.
St. Cloud State, 31 Pts. Schedule-Colorado College, Michigan Tech, Wisconsin. St. Cloud is on a 6-1-1 run and has a pretty soft final stretch. The Huskies have a good shot at winning the MacNaughton Cup as regular season WCHA champs. … UNO, 30 Pts. Schedule-Wisconsin, Minnesota-Duluth. With only 4 conference games left, it will be hard for Omaha to keep pace with St. Cloud or Minnesota. UNO should finish in the top half though, staying at home for the first playoff round. ... Minnesota State, 29 Pts. Schedule-Colorado College, North Dakota. Minnesota State has won four in a row and six of seven, but with only four games left, including a tough series with UND, Minn. State will likely finish in the top half but not challenge for the Cup. … Minnesota, 28 Pts. Schedule-Duluth, Denver, Bemidji State. The Gophers are 3-3-1 in their last seven, but a favorable schedule coming in makes them a threat to repeat as regular season champions. It will be tough for them to catch St. Cloud, but I wouldn’t rule it out. … North Dakota, 28 Pts. Schedule-Denver, Bemidji, Minn. State. UND has it pretty rough coming in, especially with the Denver series being on the road. A sweep against BSU and splits at Denver and Minn. State would result in a 36-point finish, likely good enough for third or fourth place and a home playoff series. .. .Wisconsin, 27 Pts. Schedule-Penn St. (nonconf.), UNO, St. Cloud. With just four conference games left and all of them against top teams, the sixth-place Badgers with likely battle it out with Denver and maybe Colorado College to keep the sixth spot and the home playoff games that go with it. … Denver, 25 Pts. Schedule-UND, Minnesota, Alaska-Anchorage. With a 4-point pick up against Alaska likely, Denver won’t need much against UND and/or Minnesota to challenge Wisconsin for sixth place. … Colorado College, 20 Pts. Schedule-St. Cloud, Minn. State, Michigan Tech. CC is the only other team with an outside shot at finishing in the top half, but it would need a huge finish against some good teams to pull it off. Minnesota-Duluth 20 Pts, Bemidji State 16, Michigan Tech 16, Alaska-Anchorage 10.
Hockey East Roundup
It’s a real logjam at the top of Hockey East, with six teams separated by five points. Thanks to a 2-1 win over BC and a 4-4 tie at Providence, streaking Merrimack now leads the league. UMass-Lowell swept a home and home series with Massachusetts, while BC and New Hampshire played to a 4-4 tie. It was a wild weekend up in Orono, Maine, where Boston University and the Maine Black Bears got together. Friday’s 3-3 tie was quite a game, with lead changes, momentum swings, and a third period game winner by Maine disallowed on a questionable ‘goalie interference’ call. The Saturday game was even more entertaining, with Maine scoring three unanswered goals in the third period, including one with the goalie pulled, to tie it at 4-4 and send it to OT. Maine was set up in the BU zone as the overtime was running out when a crazy bounce off the side board set up a 2-on-0 rush for Boston U. The Terriers converted with 3 seconds left to grab a frantic 5-4 win.
Quinnipiac’s 21-game unbeaten streak came to an end Friday, with a 2-1 loss to St. Lawrence. The Bobcats came back with a win against Clarkson on Saturday to end the weekend at 1-1. Due to the Gophers loss on Sunday, Quinnipiac still holds the No. 1 spot in both polls, as well as the PairWise and KRACH rankings. Union College got back on the winning track with home victories against Yale and Brown. Under the radar Rensselaer (RPI) also beat Yale and Brown, and is now 17th in the PairWise. RPI, at 14-11-5, has won six in a row and eight of nine. Yale was 0-3 for the week.
The marquee matchup between Miami and Notre Dame wound up a stalemate, with Miami taking the win at home and the Irish winning the first game of the outdoor doubleheader at Soldier Field. Ohio State took advantage of home ice and grabbed three out of a possible four points against Western Michigan. Alaska suffered a potentially devastating sweep at the hands of Lake Superior State. Alaska dropped from 13th to 20th in the PairWise as a result. Miami still leads the conference, with WMU and Notre Dame just off the pace.
NCAA Tournament Watch
Two teams worthy of keeping an eye on are RPI and Merrimack, now tied for 17th in the PairWise. One big surprise is Nebraska-Omaha, six games over .500 but way down in the 20th position. A weak schedule is hurting UNO. UND remains sixth.
It’s another week with very little movement in the uscho.com poll. Minnesota State seems to be getting very little respect way down there in ninth. Union is back in after one week, replacing Alaska. My Frozen Dozen for this week looks like this. 1) Quinnipiac, 2) Minnesota, 3) Miami, 4) Minnesota State, 5) North Dakota, 6) New Hampshire, 7) St. Cloud State, 8) Boston College, 9) WMU, 10) Denver, 11) Notre Dame, 12) UMass-Lowell. … And here are this week’s TV alerts. Friday’s UND game against Denver is on NBC Sports Network at 9 p.m. Saturday’s UND game is on Root Sports at 8 p.m. If you’re wondering what that funny sounding school from Connecticut is all about, No. 1 Quinnipiac is on NBC Sports against Yale on Friday evening before the UND/Denver game, at 6:30 p.m. Also on Friday at 6:30 p.m., the CBS Sports Network has Notre Dame vs. Western Michigan.
Mark Schuttenhelm’s column on college hockey runs each Thursday in the Sun