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Gov. Burgum says North Dakota would welcome the NHL if it wants to host playoff games in state

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Gov. Doug Burgum, right, spoke about coronavirus in North Dakota at a press conference Thursday, March 12, with state health department officials. He emphasized the importance of people washing hands, having good respiratory etiquette and staying home if sick. Listening at left are Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford and State Health Officer Mylynn Tufte. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune
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If the NHL wants to play games in Grand Forks this summer, the state would welcome it, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said.

According to a report by Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman on Sunday , the NHL has examined the possibility of playing games without fans later this summer and Ralph Engelstad Arena has been mentioned as a possible host.

"I think that would be fantastic if it happened," Burgum said. "We certainly have the facility. We know the Engelstad Center is better than many arenas in the NHL. That would be fun if it can happen."

Of course, a lot would need to happen to get to that point.

There would need to be enough advances in the battle with the coronavirus to where the league would feel comfortable playing games at all.

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The NHL has been on hiatus since March 12.

According to the Sportsnet report, Ralph Engelstad Arena would be an attractive option given North Dakota's low population density, the arena's amenities.

Burgum also said at his daily news conference that he's optimistic about UND's upcoming hockey season.

"I did see an article the other day that most of the UND hockey team was planning on returning next year," he said. "I think we had a real shot at bringing home another national championship with the fantastic hockey team they had this year. So, it's great those folks are coming back next year, because we'd love to have everybody see that group of talented players make a run again."

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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