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TOM MILLER: Denver University's ticket policy fails against dedicated UND fans

DENVER — David Badley is a UND men’s hockey season ticket holder. He was pretty disappointed last weekend when he missed his first home game in two years during the home-and-home series with Bemidji State.

Badley also happens to live in Fort Worth, Texas.

That’s some long-distance dedication.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Badley was among the throng of UND fans Friday night undeterred by Denver University’s short-lived ticket policy aimed at keeping the Green and White faithful at home.

“There’s a good contingent here,” Badley said. “Everyone around us is a Sioux fan.”

The policy failed, if not backfired on the Pioneers. UND fans matched — and possibly outnumbered — Denver’s supporters at the 6,000-seat Magness Arena.

As the national anthem came to a close, UND fans belted out ‘home of the Sioux,’ per school tradition.

So, did UND coach Dave Hakstol think the ticket policy limited his fan base?

“It didn’t sound like it at the national anthem,” he said with a grin.

The ticket policy got under the skin of UND fans in September. At that time, Denver announced it wouldn’t allow UND fans to purchase single-game tickets to the UND-Denver series.

Fans that wanted to grab tickets for this series had to either buy a group sum of 20 or purchase tickets for three other series — a scheme Denver didn’t even implement against in-state rival Colorado College.

On Friday in the series opener, “Let’s go Sioux” chants rang out even before the national anthem. And with two early goals, the party continued.

“It’s been unbelievable,” Badley said of his Denver experience. “The first time I came here with a Sioux jersey on and the first person I saw fist-pumped me. I thought, ‘this is awesome’. Then, I go around the corner and half of the rink is Sioux fans. It’s amazing.”

UND’s support in Denver has taken off. The school has an alumni base of more than 3,000 in the Denver area.

Mike Mannausau, UND executive director of the Champions Club, said he expects more than 200 alumni to gather at the school’s pre-party today at the Courtyard by Marriott Cherry Creek.

Mannausau, a former UND football coach and player, said the Denver trip is a key opportunity for his organization.

“The crowd here obviously speaks volumes about the passion of our fans in the Denver area,” said Mannausau, who has been with the Champions Club for almost a year. “It’s pretty impressive when half of the arena is full of UND fans, even though there was that ticket policy this year. The pride that we always talk about that our fans have for North Dakota hockey ... there’s no place that’s more evident than here.”

UND junior Stephane Pattyn has experienced this rivalry for three years, but the experience never gets old, he said.

“It’s still a shocker when you come here,” he said. “Hearing ‘Sioux” at the end of the national anthem gives you chills every time.”

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department for the past 13 years. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

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