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Both Division I hockey programs in Alaska have a storied history of facing one another on the ice. This shouldn’t come as a surprise because of the proximity of these two teams compared to the other U.S. college hockey programs of the contiguous 48 states. However, up until recently, we at College Hockey History believed the rivalry between the Alaska Nanooks and Alaska Anchorage Seawolves began in 1979. That happens to be the year when Alaska Anchorage launched its varsity men’s hockey program. The teams from Fairbanks and Anchorage faced each other eight times during that 1979-80 season. But the history goes back a lot further than that. We recently discovered photos of these schools playing one another on the ice in 1935.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks’ first year of hockey was 1925. The program played that one season and then discontinued hockey until 1932. At the time, the team was referred to as the Alaska Polar Bears or U of A Polar Bears. The school changed its nickname to the Nanooks in 1963. Nanook is a derivation of nanuq, which is the Inupiaq word for polar bear. On the other side, the University of Alaska Anchorage formally began its varsity hockey program in 1979 within Division II and made the leap to Division I in 1984. Prior to 1979, the school must have put together an informal team without varsity status many decades prior.

The featured photo is from 1935 and is a hockey game between Anchorage and Fairbanks. It appears to be played on the frozen Chena River according to the description of the photograph. The Northern Commercial Company building is shown on the shore in the background. The Cushman Street Bridge is out of frame to the left. Spectators would line up on the bridge during big games. This is presumably photo evidence of the first game played between these two schools as another photo states that the 1935 team was the first hockey team organized by Alaska Anchorage.

Flash forward eighty-seven years and these two programs will play one another at the Carlson Center this weekend – less than two miles away from that first meeting on the river. These two hockey programs have gone through a lot of changes since 1935. At this point, both teams participate as independents within Division I. It’s Alaska Anchorage’s first season back on the ice since the 2019-20 season. In fact, the Nanooks and Seawolves last played one another February 29, 2020; mere days before COVID-19 shut down that season. The teams will begin play for the Governor’s Cup this weekend. This is an award given to the winner of the most games between the two hockey programs throughout each season. While the schools formally began the rivalry on the ice in 1979 and started the Governor’s Cup in 1994, these upcoming games will be the renewal of a rivalry that began nearly 90 years ago.

Photo Credit: Culhane family photographs, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage.

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The Miami RedHawks and St. Cloud State Huskies have played hockey against each other in five different decades. The first meeting took place in Oxford, Ohio, on Friday, November 13, 1987. This game occurred during the first year of Division I hockey for the Huskies. Miami had been a Division I hockey member since the school fielded a team in 1978. Both teams had two wins coming into the contest. The Miami Redskins – who changed their name to the RedHawks in 1996 – had defeated Michigan and Michigan State. The Huskies two wins came from a sweep of Air Force. Both teams looked to snap losing streaks.

Ultimately, the home ice and veteran presence were too much for St. Cloud State as Miami cruised to an 8-1 victory in the first game of the series. The following night’s tilt was closer, yet the series ended in a sweep as Miami won 5-3. The Huskies scored three unanswered goals at one point in that second game to go up 3-2 yet Miami scored three unanswered goals themselves as the team battled back to win.

Chris Archer of Miami slides into the St. Cloud State net during the first meeting between these teams November 13, 1987.

At the time of this first series in 1987, Miami was a part of the CCHA and St. Cloud State was an independent team. As we know all too well, the conference alignment within college hockey is never set in stone. Flash forward to today and these two teams have shared the same conference since 2013. Prior to joining the NCHC, the programs met 13 times with Miami leading the non-conference series 8-3-2. Since the NCHC was created, the two teams have met 38 times as conference foes. The script has flipped with the Huskies sporting a 26-10-2 record over the RedHawks in that timeframe. The two teams will play each other this weekend back in Oxford, Ohio, to determine who will win games 52 and 53 in the overall series.

Photo Credits: Featured photo: The Miami Student, Vol. 115, No. 21 (Nov. 17, 1987). Secondary photo: Miami Recensio 1988 Yearbook.

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The first Mercyhurst men’s hockey season was 1987-88. The Lakers spent that season as a Division III independent team before moving to ECAC East within Division III the following season. Mercyhurst posted an impressive inaugural season record of 16-7-0. One of the teams on the schedule that season was Division I Notre Dame. The game that took place November 25, 1987, between Mercyhurst and Notre Dame is important in that it’s the first time Mercyhurst played a Division I opponent. The visiting Fighting Irish won the game 7-3 and would end up with an impressive 27-4-2 record. The two teams met again during the 1990-91 season when Mercyhurst was still a Division III program. The first time the two teams met in a true Division I game was October 13, 2007, during a season-kickoff tournament in Ohio. The teams have met five times overall throughout the years.

Photo Credit: Mercyhurst Praeterita 1988 Yearbook

By the time the 1947-48 hockey season ended in early March, St. Lawrence had put together the most successful team the school had seen to date. St. Lawrence finished 6-3-0 in collegiate play and broke all of the previous school records. The Saints were managed by first-year coach, Paul Patten, who doubled as the school’s backfield coach for the football squad. Defenseman Jack Klemens served as captain in his final season at St. Lawrence. The school paper and yearbook boasted a record of 9-5-1. However, six of the contests were considered exhibitions due to games against Canadian schools and other hockey programs outside of the college ranks. Either way, it was the first winning season in St. Lawrence hockey history. And in what could be considered the biggest accomplishment, this winning season was played almost exclusively in opponents’ rinks. The Skating Saints only played one game on home ice.

The Saints scored 112 goals throughout the season. This shattered the previous school record of 39 goals scored during the 1940-41 season. Tom Gerard scored 23 goals with 19 assists to set the school record at the time for most points scored in a season. Bud Crutchley tied Gerard for the school record in assists with 19 as well. There were several notable games for the program as well. In the Saints’ first-ever meeting with Princeton, St. Lawrence shocked the hockey world with a 6-3 victory at Hobey Baker Memorial Rink. And the scarlet-clad hockey team defeated Union late in the season by a seemingly improbable score of 17-0.

This season jump started the program. St. Lawrence put together 16 seasons in a row with winning records thereafter. This included the 1960-61 season where the Saints were national runners-up. In 1951, the program moved the hockey games indoors to Appleton Arena where the Saints home games are played to this day in Canton, New York.

Photo Credit: 1948 Gridiron Yearbook

This is the next installment in our On Location series where we live tweet a college game (or games) that we attend in person and then later post an article here on the site. If you missed our first installment, you can read it here.

Teams (seed): Denver Pioneers (1), North Dakota Fighting Hawks (2), Western Michigan Broncos (3), Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs (5)

Where: Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota

When: March 18/19, 2022

National Anthem before the Minnesota Duluth and Denver NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinal game March 18, 2022.
Minnesota Duluth and Denver opened up the 2022 NCHC Frozen Faceoff March 18, 2022.

Denver came into the weekend as the number one seed in the conference tournament and started the weekend against the only team to win an opening-round upset: Minnesota Duluth. It was the first time back at Xcel Energy Center for both teams since a previous Frozen Faceoff tournament March 23, 2019.

The Bulldogs scored first in the opening period. There was no scoring in the middle frame and for the majority of the third period. UMD scored an empty-net goal with 20 seconds left to defeat the top-seed Pioneers 2-0. The Bulldogs were set to play in the conference’s championship game for a fourth time the following night.

A Bulldog shoots the puck on net in the UMD vs Denver 2022 NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinal game.
Early action during the UMD vs Denver NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinal game March 18, 2022.

The two NCHC trophies were on display. The Penrose Cup on the left is awarded to the top team during the regular season. Denver and North Dakota were co-champions this season. The NCHC Tournament Trophy is on the right and was on hand to be presented to the winner on the ice after the championship game March 19, 2022.

Penrose Cup and NCHC Tournament Trophy
Penrose Cup and NCHC Tournament Trophy

The second semifinal game was second seed North Dakota against third seed Western Michigan. The Fighting Hawks were looking to become the first repeat Frozen Faceoff champion in conference history. The Broncos were looking for the program’s first Frozen Faceoff win. This was Western Michigan’s first game at the X since losing an opening round NCAA tournament game to North Dakota March 24, 2012. This was North Dakota’s first game in the venue since a 4-1 victory over UMD in the 2018 Frozen Faceoff consolation game. It’s worth noting the consolation game for this season was cancelled due to the Minnesota Wild hosting a hockey game during the day on Saturday prior to the NCHC championship game.

North Dakota got off to a fast start by scoring first but Western Michigan answered back less than two minutes later. The first period ended 1-1. The Broncos went up 2-1 in the second period and then scored again with less than a minute remaining. The Fighting Hawks answered back by cutting the lead back to one with less than eight seconds remaining in the period. The third period remained scoreless until an empty-net goal from Western Michigan clinched the program’s first Frozen Faceoff win. It would be Western Michigan versus Minnesota Duluth in the title game the following night.

Western Michigan celebrates a second period goal against North Dakota in the 2022 NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinal game.
Western Michigan celebrates a second period goal against North Dakota in the 2022 NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinal game.

There’s an area in the Xcel Energy Center that is dedicated to the Patty Kazmaier and Hobey Baker Memorial Awards. It includes a list of past winners, jerseys, a replica award, and information about the trophies and players they are named after.

Wing of the Xcel Energy Center dedicated to Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award.
Wing of the Xcel Energy Center dedicated to Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award that showcases Aerin Frankel.
Photos of all Hobey Baker Award winners from 1981 to 2021.
Hobey Baker Award winners from 1981 to 2021.
Hobey Baker showcase at the Xcel Energy Center
The Xcel Energy Center’s Hobey Baker showcase was updated with Cole Caufield’s photo and jersey.

The 2022 NCHC championship game took place the evening of Saturday, March 19, 2022. The Western Michigan Broncos were looking for the program’s first NCHC tournament title and were facing two-time winners Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs. Following the blueprint from the first game of the weekend, the Bulldogs jumped on the board first in the opening period. UMD scored in the middle frame to take a 2-0 lead on a power play goal from Casey Gilling. Ryan Fanti continued his hot streak and made some fantastic saves to prevent the Broncos from getting momentum. Wyatt Kaiser’s goal in the third period iced the game.

The UMD Bulldogs won the program’s third Frozen Faceoff title. Noah Cates accepted the trophy at center ice after the game and Ryan Fanti was awarded the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award. He did not allow a goal throughout the last six periods of play. By the end of the tournament Fanti was sitting at an active shutout streak of 145:21 dating back to the St. Cloud State series. With this win, UMD broke the two-way tie with Denver for the lead in number of NCHC tournament championships.

Noah Cates of UMD hoists the 2022 NCHC Tournament Trophy
The UMD Bulldogs celebrate the 2022 NCHC Frozen Faceoff title after defeating Western Michigan March 19, 2022.

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The Minnesota State Mavericks elevated its men’s hockey program to Division I prior to the 1996-97 season. The Mavericks were known as the Mankato State University Mavericks at the time. While still considered an independent team the following season, MSU was scheduled to join the WCHA in 1999. The first time the Mavericks traveled up highway 169 to meet the Minnesota Golden Gophers was January 2, 1998.

The second year Division I program was facing a Minnesota team that was coming off a 28-13-1 season that ended in a tie for first place in the WCHA. The Mavericks posted a 17-14-3 record the previous season against a mix of Division I and III teams. The favored home team welcomed the Mavericks to Mariucci by defeating them 6-2. The following night was a closer affair with the Gophers victorious once again; this time in a one-goal game 4-3. The Mavericks would end up with a 15-17-6 record in the first-ever season against only Division I opponents. While not technically a part of the WCHA during the 1997-98 season, the Mavericks were invited to play in the WCHA playoffs due to the future admission of the team. At 17-22-0, the Gophers ended with a surprising losing record that season as well. It was the Gophers first losing season since 1976-77. Both teams would lose in the first round of the WCHA playoffs.

Fast forward twenty-four years and both of these hockey programs have ascended to the top of Division I men’s hockey. While this is relatively new success for Minnesota State, it’s a return to glory for the Gophers. Minnesota State won the first NCAA tournament game in program history last season and rode the momentum to the 2021 Frozen Four. In fact, the Mavericks shut out the Gophers 4-0 to reach the Frozen Four last year in the first-ever meeting in the NCAA tournament between these programs. The same two teams will play Thursday, April 7, in the second semifinal of the night in Boston. The Gophers are out for revenge while the Mavericks hope to make the leap to the NCAA title game for the first time.

In the featured photo, Mavericks goalie Des Christopher blocks a shot January 2, 1998, in the first-ever meeting between these two teams.

Photo Credit: MSU Reporter, January 8, 1998

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The Michigan Wolverines and Denver Pioneers have a long history against one another on the ice. The first meeting between these storied programs took place in 1951. The teams were long-time division rivals in the WCHA until Michigan left for the CCHA in 1981. The two teams met four times throughout the 1961-62 regular season with each team sweeping at home. All four games took place in February 1962. The tiebreaker would take place in the WCHA playoffs at the beginning of the following month.

The 1962 WCHA tournament included the top four teams in the conference and took place at the Weinberg Coliseum in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Third seed Denver faced second seed Michigan in a battle of familiar foes in the second semifinal game March 2, 1962. The other semifinal game took place between Michigan Tech and Michigan State the previous night. The Wolverines proved to be too much for the Pioneers and won 8-4 in front of the home crowd. The legendary Red Berenson scored a hat trick in the game. As in the previous season, Berenson was selected to the All-WCHA First Team during the 1961-62 season. He was honored as a West All-American in those two seasons as well.

Both teams lost their next WCHA playoff game. Denver lost the consolation game to Michigan State 4-3 and Michigan lost the WCHA title game later that night to Michigan Tech 6-4. This marked the end of the Pioneers season while the Wolverines were invited to the 1962 NCAA tournament as the West’s at-large bid. Michigan lost the opening semifinal game to Clarkson but defeated St. Lawrence to earn the Third Place trophy. Michigan Tech defeated Clarkson in the championship game 7-1 to earn the program’s first national title.

Red Berenson added another honor to his name when he was voted to the NCAA All-Tournament First Team in 1962. He would later play in the NHL for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings. Berenson coached the Blues before heading back to his alma mater to coach the Michigan hockey team. He was the long-time head coach of the Wolverines from 1984 through 2017 and won two NCAA championships.

Denver and Michigan will meet Thursday, April 7, in the 2022 Frozen Four semifinal in Boston. This will be the 84th meeting in the series. The teams have only played each other twice since a 1981 WCHA playoff series and both games took place within the NCAA tournament. The winner on Thursday will play either Minnesota or Minnesota State in the NCAA Division I men’s championship game on Saturday.

In the featured image Red Berenson is shown scoring one of his three goals against Denver in the 1962 WCHA playoff game March 2, 1962.

Photo Credit: U-M Library Digital Collections. Bentley Image Bank, Bentley Historical Library.

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The 2013 Frozen Four in Pittsburgh was unique in that the four teams were all searching for their first Division I men’s hockey championship. Of these teams, only Yale had previously reached the national semifinals back in 1952; long before the Frozen Four moniker was even an idea. Two of the teams from the 2013 Frozen Four will be facing off against one another in the national tournament this Friday.

Quinnipiac and St. Cloud State were slated for the nightcap on Thursday, April 11, 2013. These were two teams who took similar routes to get to this destination yet ended up with opposite seeds in the 2013 national tournament. Quinnipiac was the number one seed in the East Region after winning the ECAC regular season title and going 27-7-5 prior to the national tournament. The Bobcats lost the ECAC semifinal game against Brown yet still ended up a one seed in the regional. St. Cloud State represented the WCHA in the team’s last year in the conference and went 23-15-1 prior to the national tournament. The Huskies won the WCHA regular season title yet lost to Wisconsin in the WCHA semifinals. Warranted or not, the Huskies ended up as the fourth seed in the Midwest Region. Quinnipiac defeated Canisius and Union to win the region. St. Cloud State defeated Notre Dame and Miami.

Yale won a close contest with Massachusetts Lowell in the early game April 11, 2013. The second game that night tilted in the Bobcats favor early. Jordan Samuels-Thomas scored a power play goal less than two minutes into the game for Quinnipiac. The Bobcats didn’t let up, scoring less than four minutes later. Then scored again to make it 3-0 before the end of the first period. The Huskies got one back in the second after a goal from Joey Benik but Quinnipiac answered back before the next intermission. A scoreless third period propelled Quinnipiac into the title game.

Quinnipiac faced division-rival Yale in a battle between Connecticut schools and a repeat of the ECAC Third Place Game. The Bobcats defeated the Bulldogs 3-0 in that earlier game but it would be a different outcome when it mattered the most. Yale won the program’s first NCAA national title after a 4-0 shut out and the Bulldogs were crowned 2013 national champions.

Quinnipiac and St. Cloud State will meet this Friday in the opening round of the 2022 NCAA men’s national tournament. The two teams are in the Midwest Regional and will play at PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The Bobcats are the second seed while the Huskies are the third seed. Both teams are at-large bids. Will Quinnipiac defeat the Huskies on the national stage yet again or will St. Cloud State avenge the loss from 2013? The victor will face the winner of Michigan and American International for a chance to head to the 2022 Frozen Four.

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The first season the University of Connecticut officially fielded a hockey team was 1960-61. The first game in program history took place at Harvard against the Crimson JV team. The Huskies lost 7-3 but it wasn’t too surprising since the team only practiced several times before the first game and did not have a hockey rink of their own. The Huskies would play all games on the road throughout this inaugural season. In fact, it would be several seasons before the Huskies would host a hockey game. The first program win for UConn was the second game of the 1960-61 season when the Huskies defeated Fort Devens 4-3. UConn would end up with a respectable 4-6-1 record in the program’s first season. The highlight of the season was a 7-4 win over MIT followed by an 8-7 victory over American International to end the season. The Huskies had three goal scorers in double digits in 1960-61. John Dello Stritto led the team with 20 points (12 goals, 8 assists).

UConn joined the ECAC the following season. From there, the UConn program didn’t sit still for long. The Huskies made the move to ECAC 2 in 1963 (to be classified later as Division II in 1973). When ECAC 2 was split into two conferences in 1984, UConn became a part of ECAC East and moved to Division III along with the conference. The Huskies made the jump back to Division I hockey prior to the 1998 season as one of the founding members of the new Metro Atlantic Athletic Association (MAAC) hockey conference. Then five years later UConn was one of the teams that left the MAAC to start the Atlantic Hockey Association in 2003. The Huskies stayed in that conference until 2014 when the program moved to Hockey East, where the team resides today.

The Huskies won the program’s first-ever Hockey East postseason game last weekend in a 3-1 victory over Boston University. UConn will be heading to the Hockey East semifinals for the first time and will face Northeastern at TD Garden in Boston this Friday, March 18.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Huskies 1960-61 team photo from the University of Connecticut Nutmeg Yearbook, 1961.

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The team we all know as the Minnesota State Mavericks went by a different name in 1995. Mankato State University transferred to the newly created Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system in 1995. However, the school didn’t change its name until 1998. The Mankato State Mavericks hosted a team from the Twin Cities January 27, 1995. The St. Thomas Tommies made their way to southern Minnesota that Friday to take on the Mavericks in the first game of a home-and-home series that weekend. While both programs are currently playing Division I hockey, the Mavericks were Division II and the Tommies were Division III during the 1994-95 season.

The Mavericks had a 16-5 record going into the Friday night game. The Tommies held a lead going into the third period that night thanks to stellar play by goalie Brian Volp. Mark Zacharias scored 8:50 into the period to tie it for the home team. Then with 24 seconds remaining, Brian Amundson scored the power play game winner for the Mavericks. The two teams would play the next night in St. Paul where the Mavericks won again by a one-goal margin. This time in a higher-scoring affair: 6-5.

This January 27, 1995, game is historic for Minnesota State in that it was the last men’s hockey game played at All Seasons Arena in Mankato. The men’s team played the first game at the new Mankato Civic Center (now known as the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center) the following weekend. The Mavericks defeated Alabama-Huntsville 6-3 February 3, 1995, to christen the new arena. The Minnesota State men’s team still practices at All Seasons Arena and the women’s hockey team plays home games there.

The same two teams will meet for a best-of-three series this weekend in Mankato at the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center during the opening weekend of the playoffs for the revived CCHA. Minnesota State is the top-seed in the conference. These two teams – along with all other CCHA teams – are looking to win the famed Mason Cup in this first season of the reforged CCHA. This is also the first season St. Thomas is participating in Division I hockey.

In the featured image, Aaron Broten of Mankato State takes a shot against St. Thomas goalie Brian Volp at All Seasons Arena.

Photo Credit: Mankato State Reporter, Vol. 66, No. 41, January 31, 1995.