In the college hockey world there's rivalries and then there's great games and our No. 70 represents both as the two teams that make up this game can normally find themselves at the top of the college hockey heap. What teams am I talking about?
That would be WCHA foes North Dakota and Denver as they have easily one of the most intense rivalries out there and with the future switch by both schools to the eight team NCHC (National Collegiate Hockey Conference) after this upcoming season things are only going to get more intense as they play each other more often.
Just how intense? Well, take this quote from Denver head coach George Gwozdecky who responded to a question about UND just this past season by saying, "We respect them because they've had success, but we don't like them. You want to drive them through the boards and through the walls of the arena."
What makes this series so intense and full of hate is because of the stakes involved. Usually a McNaughton Cup, WCHA Final Five championships, or even NCAA Frozen Fours are at stake when these two teams meet. Both teams made the 2011 NCAA West regional in Green Bay and neither teams fans wanted any part of the other squad at first, but once that game became a reality, boy oh boy did the UND fans revel in the 6-1 victory over their hated rivals that got them to the Frozen Four.
That game wasn't quite as good in the stands because the Denver fans really didn't show up in Green Bay, but seeing the venom and intensity of the Fighting Sioux fans towards the Pioneers was something I'll never forget having seen it in person.
For some people this is one of the rivalries inside the WCHA that may not jump right out at you, but those on the inside and/or having studied the conference know that this could very well be the biggest and best of all the rivalries out there, at least on the ice.
Overall the series stands at 134-116-8 in favor of North Dakota and both teams have combined for 6 WCHA regular season titles as well as a 1-1 record in NCAA Hockey Regional Finals. This past season went the way of the Fighting Sioux as they split the two regular season matchups but took out the Pioneers 4-0 in the WCHA Final Five Championship game.
With the changing landscape of college hockey coming with the Big Ten coming next season it's going to be great to see this kind of rivalry have a chance to shine in a way it hasn't in the past and in my book that can only be a good thing for college hockey in general.