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UND hopes to continue to be AmsOil homewreckers

UND crashed the opening of AmsOil Arena. Back in December 2010, a sold-out crowd was left with nothing to cheer for during the building's first game as UND shutout Minnesota Duluth 5-0. Thirty-eight minutes after that game, an arena worker remark...

UND Hockey
File photo of Mike Connolly of Minnesota Duluth breaks the glass after a check from Corban Knight of North Dakota during the first period of game action at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. (Brett Groehler UMD)

UND crashed the opening of AmsOil Arena.

Back in December 2010, a sold-out crowd was left with nothing to cheer for during the building's first game as UND shutout Minnesota Duluth 5-0.

Thirty-eight minutes after that game, an arena worker remarked that nobody even got to hear the new goal horn sounded. So they tracked down the person responsible for sounding it and convinced him to blast it once so those still left could hear it.

Since that night, not a lot has changed.

UND has continually served as homewreckers during its visits to the new rink along the banks of Lake Superior, leaving sold-out crowds silent.

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UND is 6-1 in AmsOil Arena, outscoring the Bulldogs 27-8 in those games. The Bulldogs have been shutout four times in those seven games by three different UND goaltenders.

Last season, Cam Johnson blanked Minnesota Duluth 3-0 on consecutive nights, despite the fact that the Bulldogs threw 78 shots on goal.

So, when the teams meet at 7:07 p.m. tonight as the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked squads in the nation, the Bulldogs will be trying to snap several droughts against the Fighting Hawks:

X Minnesota Duluth hasn't scored a goal in 166 minutes, 23 seconds against UND in AmsOil Arena. The last one was scored by Caleb Herbert on Feb. 22, 2014.

X UND goaltenders have stopped 104 consecutive shots by Bulldog players in the arena.

X The Bulldogs haven't won a series against UND since November 2008 when they earned a win and a tie at the old Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center. That's a span of 11 series.

X The Bulldogs haven't swept UND- home or away-since January 1995. And they haven't swept UND in Duluth since November 1992.

These streaks are perplexing for the Bulldogs, who have had plenty of good teams during that span-one national championship-winning squad-and haven't exactly played poorly in those games.

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This weekend, there's an extra spotlight on the series with UND being ranked No. 1 nationally and Minnesota Duluth holding down the No. 2 spot. It is the first two-game series between No. 1 and No. 2 in college hockey since 2008.

"I think at this program, you're excited for stuff like that," UND sophomore forward Rhett Gardner said. "We wouldn't want it any other way. I think we'd rather play a top-end team than a lower-end team. That's just the kind of team we are. We always want the best challenge possible for us, so we're really excited for what's ahead.

"It's always a battle against Duluth. Basically, all of the games last year were one-goal games or tight-checking games. They always play well in their rink. We just have to come ready to play."

This is the first road trip of the season for UND and its 19 underclassmen-a stark contrast from last season when UND made trips to Maine, Vermont and Colorado in the opening month of the season.

"Guys are excited," said Trevor Olson, a Duluth native. "We love road trips. We love playing in a road barn, where we're not usually welcome. We like that environment."

UND coach Brad Berry said there will be several challenges this weekend, including the fact that the Bulldogs will be able to dictate line matchups because they will have last line change at home.

"We have a lot of work to do," Berry said. "We talked about it Saturday night after Bemidji. We talked about playing 60-minute games. We've done a lot of good things through the first period of the season to give us success, but we know we're not there yet.

"We have to make sure we play the right way through a 60-minute process. You're not going to win games unless you do that. There's a self-realization that we have work to do ahead of us to keep winning games."

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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