March 20, 2003
Highway 2 Revisited
Bulldogs down Sioux as a rivalry is renewed

Minnesota-Duluth 2,
North Dakota 1
Team Goal Str
Time Assists

First Period

1-ND Brandon Bochenski (35) EV
7:12 A. Schneider, D. Lundbohm
1-MD Matt Mathias (1) EV
8:48 E. Schwabe
Second Period
No Scoring
Third Period
2-MD Junior Lessard (19) EV
17:47 S. Czech, J. Francisco
ND: Jake Brandt, 59:24, 25 saves, 2 GA
MD: Isaac Reichmuth, 60:00, 31 saves, 1 GA
Penalties: ND 4/8; MD 6/12
Power Plays: ND 0-3; ND 0-5
Attendance: 14,305

By Jess Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. – U.S. Highway 2 runs from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan all the way to Seattle. Its journey across all of the nation’s time zones includes a route that takes travelers through Duluth, Minn., and Grand Forks, N.D., which happen to be the home of college hockey programs. Those programs, which have been around for decades, just happened to meet in the WCHA Final Five play-in game on Thursday.

For a few minutes in the 2-1 Minnesota-Duluth win over North Dakota, Bulldogs coach Scott Sandelin might have felt like he was on the wrong bench. Not only did Sandelin serve as Dean Blais’ top assistant coach for several years, he played for the Fighting Sioux in 1984, when memorable playoff games between UMD and UND were not hard to come by.

That year, the Bulldogs and Sioux faced each other in the WCHA playoffs, when it was decided by a two-game, total-goals series, played at the home rink of the higher seed. The Bulldogs, having won the league title, were to host NoDak in the second round, but there was trouble. The DECC had been rented out for the boat show, meaning the Bulldogs had to play a “home” series with the Sioux at the old Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis.

Before sellout crowds of Bulldog fans who had made the 160-mile trip, UMD won 8-1 and lost 5-4 (for a 12-6 win of the series) and claimed the school's first WCHA playoff championship. A few weeks later, the teams met again in Lake Placid in the Frozen Four semifinals, with the Bulldogs winning 2-1 in overtime. Future Hobey Baker winner Bill Watson – known as “Mooch” to his friends – got the winner.

When asked if Thursday’s game brought back any memories of that night in Upstate New York, Sandelin broke into a big smirk and replied, “Did Mooch tell you to ask that question?”

But if the WCHA play-in game is the start of a renewed rivalry between the Bulldogs and Sioux, it’s just fine with the coaches.

“You look at the games we played this year and there was a tie and two one-goal wins by us,” said Sandelin. “That’s great hockey. So if we can turn this back into a fun rivalry, that’d be great.”

Blais, the mentor who was 0-2-1 versus his pupil this year, agreed.

“They’re definitely a better team now with Scott there,” he said. “I’m proud of the job he does, but we certainly still want to win.”

Sounds like the all-new Battle of Highway 2 could be a fun one next year and in seasons to come. Call this one a rivalry reborn.


Minnesota-Duluth doesn't have much time off before it faces top-seeded Colorado College at 2 p.m. CST Friday.

"I told the guys, 'We're here to play hockey,'" Sandelin said. "This is great because we don't have to wait around all day to play. We're just going to get up, have breakfast and go play hockey."

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