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Tickets $1 for Olympian-filled showdown between UND and Minnesota

Last season, Minnesota was 9-0 and ranked No. 1 in the nation. Two years ago, the Gophers were 24-1-4 and ranked No. 2 nationally. But with a large crowd backing them on Pack The Ralph night, UND pulled off an upset both times. The Fighting Hawks...

UND's Anna Kilponen fights past University of Minnesota's Sydney Baldwin during the 1st period of Thursday evening's hockey game on October 29, 2015. Photo by Nick Nelson for the Grand Forks Herald.
UND's Anna Kilponen fights past University of Minnesota's Sydney Baldwin during the 1st period of Thursday evening's hockey game on October 29, 2015. Photo by Nick Nelson for the Grand Forks Herald.

Last season, Minnesota was 9-0 and ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Two years ago, the Gophers were 24-1-4 and ranked No. 2 nationally.

But with a large crowd backing them on Pack The Ralph night, UND pulled off an upset both times.

The Fighting Hawks knocked off the Gophers 4-3 in front of 3,361 fans last November and they beat Minnesota 3-0 two seasons ago in front of 4,818 fans.

Tonight, UND will try to make it three upsets over rival Minnesota in three years on Pack The Ralph night as the Fighting Hawks host No. 2 Minnesota at 7:07 p.m.

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Tickets are just $1 for the game. For college students, it is free.

"There's a different energy and vibe," UND coach Brian Idalski said. "That carries over to the kids, absolutely. Having been a player in some of those environments, absolutely, it gives you a little jump in your step. It's instant gratification when you do something well with a huge crowd roaring and cheering. That's always been a big positive when we play.

"Hopefully, we can keep that going this week."

It won't be easy.

Despite losing all-world players Hannah Brandt and Amanda Kessel to graduation, the defending national champion Gophers are loaded once again.

Their top line of Dani Cameranesi (22 points), Sarah Potomak (22 points) and Kelly Pannek (22 points) has combined for 27 goals and 66 points.

They have more goals and points than the rest of the team combined. In fact, they have more goals and points than 16 of the 34 other Division I women's hockey programs.

"There's definitely a lot of skill, especially from their top line," said UND defenseman Halli Krzyzaniak, a 2018 Olympic hopeful for Team Canada who will likely get the task of shutting them down. "They are very skilled and very fast. They create a lot of offense.

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"I think we're ready for it. We got a taste of what it's like to play against a line like that (last week against Duluth)."

UND is coming off of a loss and a tie against Minnesota Duluth, while the Gophers have won eight consecutive games.

Although the Gophers have been college hockey's most dominant team, winning four national championships in five years, UND has managed to beat them in five of the last six years.

The lone exception was 2012-13, when Minnesota went a perfect 41-0-0. UND lost in triple overtime that year in the NCAA regional final.

"They are always pretty fun games to play, especially Pack The Ralph," Krzyzaniak said. "We get quite the fan support. It's fun to play in front of a crowd like that."

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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