RandBall: Dismal Mariucci crowds the sad new playoff normal for Gophers

BleedGopher

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per RandBall:

But really, we knew it wasn’t about the high school hockey tournament long before Sunday. Back in 2012, the Gophers drew announced crowds in excess of 9,000 for both games of a first-round playoff sweep over Alaska-Anchorage in the old WCHA.

Ah, so the Big Ten is to blame!

Well, a little. Minnesota averaged more than 9,500 fans during the regular season eight years ago before those big playoff crowds; this year, the number has dipped to 7,456 — still No. 3 in the country, but even 500 fewer than last year.

Fans have not bought into Big Ten hockey the way they supported the old rivalries of the WCHA, but that only tells a little of the weekend story. In the old days of the Gophers in the WCHA, season ticket packages included first-round playoff games. And the season ticket base was substantial back then.

Last year and this year, playoff tickets are not part of a season ticket package. If they were, one would imagine playoff crowds would be announced at levels much closer to the regular-season levels.

Take the season ticket base out of a lot of crowds, and you will see a pretty small number.

All that said: It’s still pretty stunning to see so many empty seats in a 10,000-seat hockey arena in Minnesota for a playoff game.

Just don’t blame it on high school hockey.


Go Gophers!!
 

bonin21

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Read the comments. Until the Big Ten does something creative cross conference or brings on more affiliates like UMD (who probably wouldn't leave without UND), Gopher hockey is bleeding out. It's truly depressing.

There's a reason the WCHA matchups are called the "premium games" and charge the highest prices.
 

IceBoxGopher

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I think what's become clear is the Big Ten hockey conference was a start from scratch kind of thing, rather than an immediate super conference with fast results.

It's going to take time to build up the match-ups with these Big Ten foes on the ice. I think over the next decade, the conference will expand, more Big Ten schools will probably add hockey, and newer opponents like Penn State will have become more well known rivals. But that will take time.

Don't get me wrong, I miss playing Denver, UND and UMD regularly. However, I think having good history already with Michigan and Wisconsin helps and it seems like something is starting there with Penn State.

Unfortunately, the building of Big Ten hockey comes right at the same time as Gopher hockey took a dip. I've been really impressed with how this season has turned around. I expect the team is on its way to being contender, but the timing of the team struggling and being in the Big Ten is noticeable.
 

bonin21

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It's not the same and it won't ever be as fun.

When you play UND, SCSU, MNSU, UMD, and even MTU and Omaha, they are teams that are within road trip distance. They often have many Minnesotans on the team which adds more to the rivalry as those are the players you see playing at your local rink and at the HS hockey tournament. And you think damn I hope we get that guy! Add to that CC and DU, which is an awesome away trip because Colorado is awesome and a cheap flight from MN.

You talk about the games when you get to work on Monday with your coworkers that went to UMD or UND or wherever else. No one talks about Big Ten hockey at work.

The other fans don't make the trip to Mariucci, either, so it's a two way street.

Big Ten hockey doesn't work.
 
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