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15 memorable nights in 15 years at Ralph Engelstad Arena

Fifteen years ago, a young Sean McGarry dropped the opening puck of the first game ever played in Ralph Engelstad Arena. McGarry, the grandson of Ralph Engelstad, is back to recreate the scene this weekend. For the 15-year anniversary of the $104...

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Fifteen years ago, a young Sean McGarry dropped the opening puck of the first game ever played in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

McGarry, the grandson of Ralph Engelstad, is back to recreate the scene this weekend.

For the 15-year anniversary of the $104-million arena, McGarry will drop the ceremonial first puck once again as UND hosts Canisius at 7:37 p.m. tonight in the regular-season opener.

In between McGarry's puck drops, there have been countless unforgettable nights in college hockey's finest arena-and they haven't just been limited to UND hockey games.

As an ode to the arena's 15th birthday, here are 15 of the most memorable evenings in the building:

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15. Banner night, 2016

On Saturday night, for the first time since the building opened, UND was able to raise a new national championship banner to the rafters.

Members from all eight national championship teams-1959, 1963, 1980, 1982, 1987, 1997, 2000 and 2016-were on hand as the newest green banner was raised to the rafters.

A total of 11,706 fans accounted for the first-ever sell out of an exhibition game in the arena's history in order to see the banner go up. UND won the game, too, topping Manitoba 5-1.

14. Lamoureuxs beat Canada, 2013
In a preview of the Olympic gold medal game, the U.S. and Canadian women's hockey teams scrimmaged in Grand Forks in December 2013.

Both Grand Forks natives Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux scored goals in the game in front of the hometown fans as the U.S. won 4-1. Then, they capped off the night by each receiving a fighting major with nine seconds left in the third period.

Two months later, the same teams met in Sochi, Russia, for gold.

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13. Poganski's penalty shot, 2016

The two most dramatic parts of hockey are penalty shots and overtime.

In February, UND fans got to see a penalty shot in overtime as forward Austin Poganski drew a call on a partial breakaway against Minnesota Duluth.

Poganski made a move to his backhand and flipped the puck over Bulldog goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo to send the crowd into euphoria.

12. South vs. Central, 2004

Fargo South led the state championship game 2-1 heading into the final minute. No goal had been scored since early in the first period.

But just went it looked like the Bruins were about to upset Central, the Knights stunningly scored twice in the span of 14 seconds to win the game 3-2 in regulation.

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11. Lamoureuxs make debut, 2010

It had been announced for more than a year that the Lamoureux twins were transferring from Minnesota to North Dakota to try to help build the program into a powerhouse like the men's team.

The finally made their debut in UND jerseys on Oct. 2, 2010, and they didn't disappoint.

Playing against Boston University, ranked in the top-10, the twins lit up the scoreboard in propelling UND to a 5-4 win. Trailing 3-2 in the second period, UND scored three straight goals-Jocelyne, Monique, Monique-to win. The 2,855 fans that attended knew UND had something special.

10. USA vs. Russia, 2004
The World Junior Championship opened on Christmas Day in 2004 with a bang.

The U.S. beat Russia 5-4 in a highly entertaining, back-and-forth game that started with a crowd-pleasing goal by UND forward Drew Stafford and featured a goal by now-NHL superstar Alexander Ovechkin.

9. Andre Agassi vs. Andy Roddick, 2004

Rarely do highly ranked tennis players come to this region of the country. The closest major tournament is located in Cincinnati. But in October 2004, two players ranked in the top 20 in the world came to Grand Forks to play.

Agassi had already won all four major titles-Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open. Roddick also had a major title to his credit-the U.S. Open. Agassi won the match in two sets.

8. The Denver comeback, 2008

UND trailed rival Denver 4-1 on Feb. 15, 2008, but scored four goals in a row to win. The Ralph became louder and louder with each one.

The eventual winner-Andrew Kozek's hat trick goal-came with less than five minutes to go in regulation. It was Kozek's lone hat trick in college.

7. Grafton-Park River wins in 3OT, 2008

The 2008 state championship game featured a little bit of everything.

High skill level? Check. Future D-I players on both sides? Check. Controversy? Check. A memorable ending? Check.

Grafton-Park River tied up the game late in the third period with too many men on the ice. The officials never caught it, though. Chad Demers, who went on to play at Air Force, finally finished the game in the third overtime.

6. UND-Denver, 2003

UND entered the 2003 Western Collegiate Hockey Association first-round playoff series as a bubble team for the NCAA tournament.

UND's season was on the brink after a Game 1 loss to Denver, but rallied back to win both Games 2 and 3 in overtime. Brandon Bochenski scored the overtime winner on Saturday night and Nick Fuher, on his birthday, sent UND to the Final Five. Fuher's goal started a string of 14 consecutive first-round series wins for UND that is still alive today.

The crowd went crazy after both overtime goals, leading Dave Hakstol to call it the weekend that the new Ralph became the old Ralph again.

5. UND-Minnesota playoff series, 2010

The WCHA first-round series pitted the two rivals against each other and they produced a classic.

UND routed the Gophers 6-0 on Friday night, but Minnesota came back and evened the series on Saturday thanks to Seth Helgeson's first-career goal.

During Sunday's Game 3, Matt Frattin laid a vicious hit on Gopher defenseman Kevin Wehrs in the second period. He was assessed a five-minute major penalty for it, but came back to score the dagger goal, putting UND up 3-1 late in the third.

4. Gwozdecky's walk, 2009

On Jan. 24, 2009, Denver coach George Gwozdecky stood on the dasher boards while the puck was in play to protest a non-call.

Referee Todd Anderson ejected Gwozdecky and gave him a bench minor. Upon learning he was ejected, Gwozdecky jumped over the boards, walked clear across the ice to converse with a linesman. He then turned around and calmly walked all the way back to the bench.

Gwozdecky was later suspended-not for the walk but for using a headset device to communicate with the bench after his ejection.

3. Kansas at UND, 2002

Thanks to the policy that Kansas would play a basketball game in the home state of every senior, the perennial power, featuring Valley City's Jeff Boschee, came to The Ralph on Dec. 22, 2002.

The game featured a stunning amount of talent-seven players in that game went on to the NBA. Six played for Kansas-14-year NBA veteran Drew Gooden, 13-year NBA veteran Kirk Hinrich, 12-year NBA veteran Nick Collison, Aaron Miles, Keith Langford and Wayne Simien.

UND's Jerome Beasley held his own against Kansas' post players, posting a double double (20 points, 10 rebounds) and perhaps attracting enough scouting attention to secure his spot in the NBA as well.

2. Canada vs. Russia, 2005

The gold-medal game of the World Junior Championship kicked off the now-famed Sidney Crosby vs. Alexander Ovechkin rivalry. This was the first meeting between the two NHL superstars.

Canada won the game thanks to its mind-blowing talent-its roster included NHL all-stars Corey Perry, Andrew Ladd, Ryan Getzlaf, Dion Phaneuf, Shea Weber, Patrice Bergeron, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Brent Seabrook and Crosby. The Russians had Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.

The Canadian fans flocked from the northern border and provided an raucous atmosphere.

1. West Regional, 2006

The loudest, most electric that Ralph Engelstad Arena has ever been, hands down, was on March 24, 2006.

The fans, who had long awaited an NCAA regional in their hometown, entered The Ralph that evening revved up.

The first game featured No. 1 seed Minnesota against Atlantic Hockey champion Holy Cross. The Crusaders stayed in the game against the heavily favored Gophers, forcing overtime.

When Tyler McGregor scored early in the overtime period to give Holy Cross the stunning victory, The Ralph erupted. Fans, overjoyed to see their rival lose and happy about a potential easier matchup in the regional final for UND, let out a thundering "Let's go Sioux chant."

The building went even crazier as UND scored twice in the first eight minutes against a loaded Michigan team. The next night UND beat Holy Cross to reach the Frozen Four.

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Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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