Congrats to the 2016 University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks hockey team. They were able to win the first title since moving in the $100 million+ Ralph Engelstad Arena. Not that they haven’t been in position to win a few more since the last one in the year 2000.
Bennett Brien, a well known Chippewa Indian from the Turtle Mountain Band designed a new Fighting Sioux logo for the University of North Dakota in 1999. The logo was officially adopted by the sports teams to coincide with the grand opening of the new Ralph Engelstad Arena during the 2000-2001 season. The previous year, the hockey team won the NCAA title with the old geometric logo used since 1976.
What has transpired since cannot be made up. Lots of successful seasons for the hockey team, with no NCAA titles, was there something brewing from the hockey gods? In an effort by Ralph Engelstad himself to keep the Fighting Sioux name, he first threatened to stop the entire project if UND changed its name. Then, as almost a slap in the face to the powers that be, he purposely installed 1,000’s of the “new” Bennett Brien logos throughout the arena.
The first game ever in the new palace was a 7-5 loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers. That year UND would reach the NCAA title game in a chance to repeat as back to back champs for the first time in their history but would fall to Boston College, 2-0. The next year UND would miss the NCAA tournament. But then they would go on to play in 13 straight NCAA tournaments, with agonizing losses to follow each year. Were those losses due to powers out of UND’s hands?? 2002-03 they would lose to Ferris State, giving Ferris State its first ever NCAA tournament win. 2003-04 they would win 30 games but would lose a heartbreaker to Denver 1-0 as the number 1 seed. 2004-05 would introduce Dave Hakstol as the new head coach. They would go back to the NCAA title game but would lose to Denver 4-1. 2005-06, they would reach the Frozen Four but lose to Boston College 6-5. 2006-2007 would see another Frozen Four appearance and another loss to Boston College 6-4. 2007-08 would see another Frozen Four and another loss to Boston College 6-1. 2008-09 would be a year UND would lose in the first round by giving up a goal to New Hampshire with .01 seconds left in regulation and then lose in Overtime. 2009-10 would see Und lose to Yale, a team that had never had a NCAA tournament win in the first round and hadn’t had a win since the 1951-52 season. 2010-11 would see a dominant UND make it back to the Frozen Four and lose to Michigan in the Xcel Energy Center in front all a sea of green. 2011-12 would see UND lose to Minnesota in the NCAA regional a week after the famous timeout game in the Final Five. 2012-13 would see UND blow a lead in the 3rd period and give up 4 goals to Yale. 2013-2014 would see UND lose to Minnesota in the Frozen Four 2-1 on a short-handed goal with .06 seconds left, classic. 2014-2015 would see UND lose to Boston University 4-3 in the Frozen Four.
That is a mad run of losses in a 15 year span for a team that previously won 7 national titles in 13 frozen four appearances. In 2012, UND dropped its Fighting Sioux moniker, which was negotiated the NCAA and removed “Home of the Fighting Sioux from the outside of the arena. In 2015, the last player to wear a UND Fighting Sioux Jersey was gone. In 2015, Dave Hakstol, an advocate to the Fighting Sioux name and logo, left to the NHL. Had all the pieces of the Sioux Head logo curse been removed? Enter 2015-2016, UND picks Fighting Hawks as the new moniker. The sports gods relinquished the curse over UND and the well-known Sioux head logo. The now infamous Sioux head logo had never won a NCAA National title. All the great players, all the great teams and that logo cursed them. The above information in not embellished, it is merely the results of what happened from 2000-2001 season to 2014-2015 season with the Bennett Sioux head logo moniker.
It is possible that UND wasn’t cursed and they lost those games because they weren’t the better team on any of those occasions. Next time you look up at the 7 National Title banners hanging in the Ralph or witness a person who still wears a “Sioux” jersey with Bennett Sioux head logo on it, realize that each one of those titles was won without that logo and the 2015-16 title was won as the Fighting Hawks. These are the exact elements that make up curses throughout sports history. Und fans can thank the NCAA for sponsoring a tournament every year and they can thank the NCAA for the 8 titles they have. Lost in all that celebration is the fact that UND fans still and probably always will despise the NCAA for taking the Sioux logo. Seems disgraceful to me to despise the very entity that you supplies you with what you cherish so much.