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