STrib: Gophers looking at switching to smaller ice sheet


per Megan:

When the Gophers skate on home ice, it’s similar to a beach vacation.

But not in a good way.

“It feels like an ocean,” senior forward Jack Ramsey said of 3M Arena at Mariucci. “When we practice on Ridder [Arena] for an away series for a week and then we come back out to Mariucci, it’s like … ‘How is this even hockey played out here?’ ”

Transitioning among the different-sized rinks in college hockey — from Mariucci’s Olympic-sized 200 feet by 100 feet to the Gophers women’s NHL-sized 200x85 and all the hybrids in between — is something teams have to navigate. The Gophers are the only program in the Big Ten with the large international sheet and return to it this weekend against Wisconsin after two weeks on the road at smaller rinks.

A slow-moving movement to make Mariucci’s sheet smaller could end the dimensional back and forth and reverse a more than 30-year-old trend. But until then, the Gophers and their opponents will just have to keep adjusting their play to their surroundings. Olympic ice encourages more creativity, since there’s more space to make plays. Games on NHL ice are physical, forcing more contact and typically more goals, as everything happens quickly.

That can be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on a lot of factors. When Wisconsin comes to Mariucci on Friday and Saturday, the Badgers must adjust up from their hybrid 200x97 Kohl Center. They’ll have to compensate for more room on special teams and larger gaps with their defense. But when the Gophers play away from home, they can feel crowded and pressed for time on a tighter rink.

Gophers coach Bob Motzko, in his first year with the program, previously coached at St. Cloud State for many seasons, which also sports an Olympic-sized rink. He said the bigger ice is great for practice and developing skills in young players — something the many elite European NHL players have proved after starting out on the bigger ice.

And while he said it’s easier to transition from a bigger rink to a smaller one than vice versa, that might become a problem of the past soon enough. Olympic-size rinks became a fad in college in the 1990s, but now they’re slowly phasing out. Minnesota State Mankato, for example, shrunk its Verizon Center sheet to 200x90 in 2013. The president of the International Ice Hockey Federation even commented earlier this month about potentially moving all international competitions to NHL-sized surfaces.

Go Gophers!!


Active member
Too bad really. I wonder how many recruits go elsewhere due to the size of the rink. If someone is thinking of going pro eventually, wouldn't they want to show the scouts what they can do on a hybrid or smaller rink as opposed to an Olympic size that cannot be found on the pro level. Personally I never understood why the Gophers did this in the first place.


114 Row 11
Wondering if they will ever do it. Have been talking about it for a long time.
If I remember the articles correctly, the ice sheet was always last after upgrading the workout facilities and then the locker room. Something along the lines of making sure the players and player development was taken care of first.

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