Sports Illustrated writer Peter Richmond traveled to Ralph Engelstad Arena a couple of weeks ago to do a piece on the UND hockey experience.
He did a great job capturing it (and from a writer’s perspective, he’s obviously very talented).
What kind of idiot would wait until game day to book a hotel room on a road trip to Grand Forks, N.D., on a winter Saturday night? An idiot from a blue state who’d always thought that college hockey was played in tournaments with cute little names like Beanpot. An East Coast-centric fan in search of the best hockey being played during Bettman’s Follies who figured that if it was being played in a town in the state that time forgot, there would be an empty bed somewhere. This is, after all, the third-largest city in a state whose entire population is fewer than San Antonio.
“Sorry, we’re full,” the guy on the phone from Motel 6 or 8 or 11 said as I drove into town after the drive up from Minneapolis. I’d already tried all the chains I’d heard of, and some I hadn’t, like the “C’mon Inn” whose front desk guy gave me the bad news: There was no room to come on into.
“Got any recommendations?” I said, trying to keep the tone of desperation out of my voice.
“Not really, I mean, y’know … hockey,” he said, as if I were probably from an alien star system whose ignorance of the local seasonal mania deserved the benefit of the doubt.