Minnesota ended North Dakota’s season last year with a triple-overtime win.
North Dakota returned the favor in mid-November by snapping the Gophers’ NCAA record 62-game winning streak.
“They’re probably pretty mad at us for that, and we’re pretty mad at them for ending our streak,” senior forward Kelly Terry said. “[There’s] extra fire for both teams.”
Minnesota and North Dakota currently sit at No. 1 and No. 3 in the nation, respectively, and this weekend’s matchup in Grand Forks, N.D., will add another page to the intensifying rivalry.
“We want to leave no doubt that we are a better team than North Dakota,” captain Bethany Brausen said, “and I think that this weekend presents that opportunity if we’re able to find a way to get the two wins.”
The rivalry is a newer one for Minnesota — not as long-standing as those with Minnesota-Duluth or Wisconsin — but Terry said she thinks North Dakota is currently the team’s biggest rival.
Gophers head coach Brad Frost said he thinks the rivalry really ignited when twins Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux transferred from Minnesota to North Dakota.
Before that, North Dakota had little relevance in the WCHA.
In 2009-10, the season when the twins played for the U.S. Olympic team, North Dakota went 8-22-4.
The next year? 20-13-3.
Frost said the rivalry was “more bitter” right after the twins transferred.
“They had had a great year for us and decided to go home,” he said. “We can certainly understand that, but obviously with them knowing our players and our players knowing them, the rivalry was kind of started up there.”
The Lamoureuxs have since graduated, but the rivalry has grown even stronger and is one rooted in mutual respect, Frost said.
The rivalry might not be bitter, but it’s definitely emotional.
“[It] really comes down to us being disciplined,” Brausen said. “There’s going to be a lot of emotions this weekend, so really controlling that and generating that in the right way, I think, is the key to success.”
And that means staying out of the penalty box.
The Gophers committed six penalties in their last game, a win over St. Cloud State. North Dakota, however, has a stronger power play than St. Cloud State, and the Gophers likely won’t be able to get away with that again.
“As much of a physical battle as it will be, it will definitely be a mental battle and a test in that way to make sure we’re staying level-headed and staying poised,” Brausen said.
North Dakota is aiming for a school attendance record Friday, urging fans to “Pack the Ralph” by offering $1 tickets.
That type of promotion at Ralph Engelstad Arena will add to an already energy-charged series.
“These are the type of games that we look forward to playing all year because it takes no extra effort to get pumped up,” Terry said. “We’re just ready to go every time we play them.”