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OUR OPINION: Great news about UND-Gophers hockey rivalry

A development that could have brought lasting disappointment and loss has been averted. And the credit goes to UND and University of Minnesota officials, who agreed to renew the schools' longtime hockey rivalry. Congratulations to the officials, ...

Our Opinion

A development that could have brought lasting disappointment and loss has been averted.

And the credit goes to UND and University of Minnesota officials, who agreed to renew the schools' longtime hockey rivalry.

Congratulations to the officials, for finding ways to get to "yes"; to the schools, whose players and students will be re-energized by this terrific rivalry; and the Red River Valley, where the UND-Gophers men's hockey game for generations has been a marquee event.

"North Dakota and Minnesota have verbally agreed to renew the rivalry series in 2016-17, a source confirmed to the Herald," Staff Writer Brad Elliott Schlossman reported.

"The agreement is for the teams to play a pair of two-game series. The first one, in 2016-17, will be played in Minneapolis. The following year, the teams will play in Grand Forks.

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"Those matchups will end a three-year stretch without a regular-season series."

Of course, the teams play in different conferences now, so the long-term future of their playing each other beyond 2018 remains uncertain. Nonconference games never are a sure thing.

But they're a lot less uncertain in this case than they were a week ago. That's because when the track record of any such rivalry is broken, scheduling the first rematch usually is the most difficult. Just ask North Dakotans who'd like to see the football rivalry between UND and North Dakota State University renewed.

In the case of the UND and Minnesota men's hockey teams, the "longtime rivals" had "played every year from 1948 to 2013," Schlossman reported.

That's a lot of tradition, and it translates into heavy momentum for keeping the rivalry alive. When the teams meet again in 2016-17, the series will be a huge event.

And if those games as well as the series the next year are successful (which seems likely), then the teams will have every incentive to put themselves on each other's dance cards for more years to come.

UND and Minnesota coaches and other officials deserve great credit for recognizing the rivalry's importance, sensing its value to their teams, schools and fans and pushing to get the scheduling done.

That surely meant taking extra time to make calls and schedule meetings even as the upcoming season and its countless duties loomed. But it was important work, and it ultimately was successful. Hockey fans in Grand Forks and the Twin Cities alike say, "Thanks."

Opinion by Thomas Dennis
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