Lawmaker seeks to preserve MN-ND hockey rivalry

Published 10:43 am Friday, March 22, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota lawmaker wants to make sure the Minnesota-North Dakota men’s college hockey rivalry continues after the two teams leave the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

Rep. Ryan Winkler, D-Golden Valley, introduced a bill Thursday that would pay the University of Minnesota $800,000 any year the school plays North Dakota at least once. It wouldn’t matter which team wins.

Winkler said his bill is “a little bit in jest” and that it won’t become law. But he pointed out that he’s on a higher education committee with jurisdiction over university funding and hopes the measure gets the school’s attention.

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Minnesota is leaving the WCHA to join the Big Ten’s new hockey league while North Dakota is joining the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference. The teams won’t play again in the regular season for at least two years, though Minnesota coach Don Lucia has said he expects they’ll play nonconference games after that.

Television money is one of the main reasons Minnesota is leaving the WCHA after this season, but Winkler said that’s no reason to “get rid of one of the great rivalries in college hockey.”