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Minnesota Hockey #TBT First Game vs St. Cloud State

The University of Minnesota has faced off against St. Cloud St 98 times before and have a chance to play #99 this weekend in the North Star College Cup. Here is a look back at their first game. St. Cloud State is currently ranked #2 in the Pairwise, and have certainly come along way in the last 29 years.

A St. Cloud State hockey player avoids Minnesota Gopher Todd Richards at the Hall of Fame game in Eveleth, Minnesota
A St. Cloud State hockey player avoids Minnesota Gopher Todd Richards at the Hall of Fame game in Eveleth, Minnesota
Image courtesy of the St. Cloud State University Archives.

In 1987 St. Cloud St. joined Division I hockey and played the Gophers in a exhibition game, the Hall of Fame Game in Eveleth, Minnesota. Since that 1987 matchup the Gophers and Huskies have played 98 times (for comparison the Gophers have played UMD 230 times, and Wisconsin 276 times). In the 29 years these two teams have been playing each other, the University of Minnesota has won 55 games.

The story of St. Cloud State Hockey starts in the 1930s when the school was called the St. Cloud St. Teachers College. Lead by future NHL Hall of Famer Frank Brimsek. The Huskies Hockey story then goes dormant for 50 some years. In 1986-7 St. Cloud State coached by the legend Herb Brooks, and the Huskies went 25-10-1 and took 3rd place in the Division III tournament. The next season Herb Brooks was gone but the Huskies were a Division I team playing the Gophers.

A St. Cloud State hockey player avoids Minnesota Gopher Todd Richards at the Hall of Fame game in Eveleth, Minnesota, 1987. Image courtesy of the St. Cloud State University Archives.

The following is the game recap from the October 5, 1987 Star Tribune by John Gilbert.

Gophers' hockey victory costly; Nanne out

Less than five minutes into Saturday night's season opener, the Gophers hockey team lost its third regular to injury.

Marty Nanne dislocated his left shoulder at 4:14 of the first period of Saturday night's Hall of Fame dedication game, a 6-0 romp over St. Cloud State at the Eveleth Hippodrome. Nanne will be out four to six weeks, joining defenseman Lance Pitlick, who broke some toes when hit by a practice shot Friday, and Jay Cates, who has a sprained ankle, as unable to play in Friday's WCHA opener.

Saturday's game concluded the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies of 1960 Olympic gold medal captain Jack Kirrane of Brookline, Mass., and the late Muzz Murray, a tenacious old-time amateur and pro player from Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

It also welcomed St. Cloud State into the world of Division I hockey, but there was a trap door under the Gophers' welcome mat.

"Our kids found out the pace of Division I," said St. Cloud coach Craig Dahl. "I'm happy the game is over and that we had a chance to play it. It was a good learning experience for us. Minnesota clearly has the better team."

Gophers coach Doug Woog implied afterward that he thought St. Cloud was over-aggressive and chippy. The Huskies got 14 of the 25 penalties in the game, but the only player on either side to get more than three penalties was Gophers sophomore Randy Skarda, who got six minors.

Gophers goalie Robb Stauber made 17 stops, got an assist and got away with a 10-second waltz, during which he grabbed St. Cloud's Vic Brodt and held him, spinning around as play went up-ice. Referee Greg Shepherd apparently didn't discern any wrongdoing and Brodt could do nothing but laugh.

Craig Shermoen faced 47 shots in the St. Cloud net.

The numerous freshmen were impressive on both sides. Gophers Ken Gernander, Grant Bischoff, Jason Miller, Lance Werness and Luke Johnson, who replaced Pitlick, played well. Gernander got the final goal while Bischoff assisted on goals by linemates Paul Broten and Peter Hankinson, and on the second of two goals by defenseman Todd Richards.

St. Cloud's freshmen, particularly Derek Vekich, Scott Eichstadt, Steve Haataja and Pat McGowan, had their moments but could only be measured by near-misses. The Huskies' freshmen were recruited for Division I and may have less of an adjustment problem than the upperclassmen, who had only Division III experience before.

Against the Gophers' experience and skill, the Huskies were tight at the start. By the time they relaxed, it was over. The Gophers swarmed to a 4-0 lead and a 21-5 edge in shots in the first period.

Richards, who moved in from defense to score twice in the first period, didn't play after feeling a groin muscle "pop" in the second period. With Cates, Pitlick and Nanne already injured, Woog didn't want to risk any more.

The 1986-7 season finished with St. Cloud St. going 11-25-1. Meanwhile Minnesota took first place in the WCHA, Doug Woog's first banner, and 4th in the NCAA. Gopher goaltender Robb Stauber also won the Hobby Baker award that year.

ED NOTE: The promo lead to this story previously said Minnesota and SCSU played on Saturday. This was an error, as Mankato plays SCSU Saturday. If they both win or lose, Minnesota and St. Cloud would have their 99th meeting in the North Star College Cup.