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UND HOCKEY: UND averages more than a sellout

The UND men's hockey team had more home wins than anyone in the country. It made a habit of scoring highlight-reel goals on nearly a nightly basis. And the fans came out to watch. For the fifth time in the 15-year history of Ralph Engelstad Arena...

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On most nights when UND is playing, Ralph Engelstad Arena is jam packed. UND, in fact, average more than a sellout per game. Jesse Trelstad/ Grand Forks Herald.

The UND men's hockey team had more home wins than anyone in the country.

It made a habit of scoring highlight-reel goals on nearly a nightly basis.

And the fans came out to watch.

For the fifth time in the 15-year history of Ralph Engelstad Arena, UND averaged more than a sellout per game, bringing in an average of 11,675 per game this season. The Ralph seats 11,634 but also sells standing-room tickets.

UND led the country in home venue attendance for the fourth year in a row, too, easily beating out Minnesota (9,841), Wisconsin (8,849) and Nebraska Omaha (6,918), which opened a new arena this season.

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All 12 National Collegiate Hockey Conference regular-season games in The Ralph were sold out this season.

The only games that didn't sell out were the Christmas break contests against Alabama Huntsville (both drew more than 11,000) and last weekend's first-round playoff series against Colorado College. The students were gone for those four games.

The success of the team at home didn't hurt.

UND went 16-2-1 in The Ralph this season-its best-ever in the venue-and has lost just two of its last 30 home games dating back to Jan. 10, 2015. It had the highest goal differential at home this season, beating opponents by a combined 47 goals.

"We're thankful for the support," UND senior Bryn Chyzyk said. "Every game was sold out besides the Huntsville weekend. I can't say enough of a thank you to them. They get us going every night and they help a lot."

UND rookie Brock Boeser said after Saturday's game that he enjoyed the experience of playing in front of the large crowds.

"There are no words to describe it," Boeser said. "It's unbelievable. Just coming into our first game, experiencing what everyone was saying about it, was great. The support throughout the whole season is the best in the country. I couldn't be thankful enough for coming here."

North Dakota also averaged more than a sellout in 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11. The only teams to average more than capacity this season were North Dakota and Penn State.

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Attendance down overall

Attendance is down overall among the three conferences that split after the 2012-13 season.

Teams in the NCHC and Big Ten are both down an average 7.3 percent from their final year in the old leagues, while teams in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association are down an average 10.2 percent.

The drop in attendance is a trend across all college sports.

Major college football experienced a decrease in attendance for the fifth straight year and its lowest average since 2000.

Eight teams in the West reported an increase in paid attendance since 2012-13: North Dakota, Minnesota, Ohio State, MSU-Mankato, Alabama Huntsville, Bowling Green, Ferris State and Michigan Tech.

Women's attendance

UND finished fourth nationally in attendance on the women's side, averaging 1,009 per game, trailing Minnesota (2,125), Wisconsin (2,019) and Minnesota Duluth (1,331).

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The Badgers went 21-0 with 12 sellouts in LaBahn Arena this season.

UND's attendance dropped slightly from 1,149 the previous season. Its highest-attended game was on Oct. 30, when it drew 3,361 for a 4-3 victory over Minnesota.

Minnesota Duluth, under first-year coach Maura Crowell, had the highest average attendance in program history.

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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