Confession Alert: I live just minutes away from the University of North Dakota, one of the top hockey schools in the nation. But until last year, I’d never been to a game. I finally remedied the situation last fall.
Don’t make the same mistake I did. Here are five reasons why you should totally check out a UND hockey game when you’re in Grand Forks — or in North Dakota in general.
The Atmosphere Is Electric
Even if you’re not really into sports, you’re going to have fun at UND Hockey game. From the everybody-on-their-feet intro to singing along with The Fratellis’ “Chelsea Dagger” after every goal (which is also played after goals at Chicago Blackhawks games), there’s lots of pageantry and crowd participation to draw you in. Just follow the fans’ lead and you’ll fit in just fine.
UND fans are fiercely loyal and committed. Everybody (and I mean everybody) comes dressed in green and white, so if you’re lucky enough to score tickets, wear team colors to fit in. (You can buy new Fighting Hawks gear throughout the arena if you forget.)
A word about that logo: The Fighting Hawks mascot and logo are new and many UND fans are…still adjusting. It’s gonna take a while.
You Can Watch Future Pros
Over 250 UND Hockey alumni have gone pro, including 13 this season in the NHL alone. (There are tons of other alumni playing and coaching in leagues around the world.) So it’s practically guaranteed that somebody you watch on the ice will be playing pro hockey one day.
Ralph Englestad Area is Gorgeous
The Fighting Hawks play at the Ralph Engelstad Arena (a.k.a. The Ralph), which is more of a shrine to hockey than a simple arena. The 400,000 square foot space cost over 104 million dollars to build and boasts concourse floors made of granite and leather and cherry wood seats. I’ve heard people say the interior is nicer than professional hockey arenas they’ve visited.
There’s not a bad seat in the house. If you sit in the club lounges on the north and south sides of The Ralph, you can get in-seat beverage service or sip your drink at the longest freestanding bars in the state.
They Win — A Lot
The UND Hockey program has won eight Division I NCAA titles (including the 2015-2016 title) as well as 17 conference titles. The team wins consistently (and has a winning record again so far this season), so when you show up for a game, you have a better than average chance witnessing a victory.
Score Some Stellar Game Food
From bacon cheeseburgers to chicken wraps to pizza, you can try a little bit of everything at The Ralph. I recommend a grinder from the hometown favorite and UND institution, Red Pepper (named “Best Late Night Eats” by “Esquire” magazine), or a snack from the seriously addictive Canadian chain, Tim Hortons.
What about you?
What do you love about UND hockey?
What else should fans check out when they’re in town?
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