The more things change

While doing interviews for my story on the old Ralph Engelstad Arena going down, I had to laugh a little bit hearing people talk about when the rink opened in 1972.

**It was a nicer place, but there weren’t as many hardcore hockey fans. You had to be a hardcore fan to sit in the Barn, with no heat, during the winter and watch games. It was a larger place, so it could accommodate more fans, but it was a different crowd. People who enjoyed the warmer conditions came out.

**Was the Winter Sports Building aka old Ralph a big home ice advantage? “Not as big as the other place,” former coach Rube Bjorkman said about the Barn. Opposing teams had to deal with the adverse temperature conditions in the Barn.

It made me laugh because these were the same complaints people had when the new Ralph opened – that the nice building attracted more fans, but not as many hardcore fans. People said it wasn’t as big of a home ice advantage either.

But as it turned out, the old Ralph ended up being one of the hardest places for opponents to play in. UND compiled a .693 winning percentage in there (which was up from the Barn’s .660 winning percentage) and it turned out to be a great place for hardcore hockey fans.

I think fans are realizing now that the new Ralph also is a difficult place for opponents to play. UND’s winning percentage in the new Ralph (.695) is slightly better than the old Ralph. Since that awkward first season in the new building, UND is at .705 in there.

So, while some thought UND sacrificed success for comfort in both the old Ralph and new Ralph, stats indicate that the success has followed.

UND in its home buildings

The Barn — .660
Old Ralph — .693
New Ralph — .695

22 thoughts on “The more things change

    • I thought it was awkward, because you had a lot of people coming just to see the building…. there were problems with the students standing up and blocking views…. the band was stashed up in the top corner where you couldn’t hear them…. they often times had the band playing at the same time as the PA… there were a lot of things they had to figure out that year.

  1. Cause we were 8-9-2 at home and the crowd was dull. Obviouisly becuase the team lost a lot at home (and the road). Only team since 1997 that has not made it to the Final 5!!The record a long with adjusting to the new building was why it was awkward.

    • At first,being in the new Ralph felt like you were 8 years old and walking around in your grandma’s house and you didn’t want to touch anything or break anything.

  2. I think I read how many national championships we won via the old Ralph, I know how we have done in the new Ralph, what about the old Barn?

    • The place I have heard about the most is when the team went to Alfond Arena in Maine a couple years ago. Jam-packed crowd. Very into the game. They are right on top of the goalie for two of the three periods with the way that building is set up.

  3. the first couple of years at the ralph were all about being seen, still is to a point, but now it is ‘cool’ again to cheer for the team.

  4. How many years has it been since UND didn’t have an arena standing that a national championship has been won in (not physically in, but during that season)?

    • According to another poster, the old Winter Sports Building was torn down in 1978, at which point there would have no existing building with a national championship. Fortunately, that didn’t last long, as the next one came in 1980.

  5. The old Michigan Tech arena in Houghton had to be the toughest place to play & not just because of the lack of heat. The rink was surrounded by chain link fence, not chicken wire, as in the old barn in GF. As a result the fans were allowed to stand behind the goalie & they could launch spit further cus they could hold unto to the chain link to gain leverage. The goalie could end up with his back covered by spit. Security would do nothing about it.

  6. One time In Colorado Springs @ the old Broadmoor World Arena the Sioux had to be escorted off the ice between periods by 30 or so Colorado State troopers because of a hostile crowd.

    Not only that but the crowd had broken hockey sticks that they were using as they hung over the seats above the exit to try and poke players as they made their way to the dressing room.

  7. I do remember seeing a poll in the Herald back in 1999 when I was in school where they asked the captains of the 9 other wcha teams where the toughest place to play on the road in conference was, and all 9 said in GF.
    Now that the old Ralph is down, maybe some of that championship mojo will make it over to the new one.

    • I bet if you asked that question today….. not only would it be one of the toughest, it would be the one they look forward to playing in the most. In front of 12,000 fans……. unless you are a Gopher :) than you run and hide.

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