Wild Puck Banter was on the road this past weekend as we visited the home of the Fighting Sioux, Ralph Englestad Arena in Grand Forks, North Dakota. It's a quick 5 hour drive from the Twin Cities, so we were there in no time flat. Once there I had to fill up my gas tank at a local gas station, pictured above.
After filling our tank we checked into our accomodations at the Ramada Inn. As you can see, they have an indoor swimming pool that has a very nice "adults only" swimming time for when people are trying to get some sleep after a long day of driving.
- The arena is spectacular. Most of the floors are done with granite and/or marble, including in the restrooms. I don't know how they can possibly change the Sioux's nickname because the logo is everywhere you look. Everywhere.
- Regarding the atmosphere, it reminded me of an NHL game. The crowd got loud when the Sioux scored, but was pretty quiet for a majority of the game. They played a lot of Motley Crue and GNR between puck drops, much to the delight on many fans. It struck me that there was no pep band or even an organized student section, ala UMD or UMTC. The students that were there seemed to be scattered around the building and did no organized chants. Lots of cowboy hats.
- Food-wise I really enjoyed my "taco-in-a-bag." Every arena should add this item to their menu immediately. They also offered pizza, dogs and burgers. The younger members of my staff enjoyed the mini-donuts quite a bit also.
- The game was a good one for the bulldogs, who I thought controlled play for most of the game, minus the Sioux power plays. The game was tied 2-2 late in the third period when the Sioux goalie let in a very soft goal that was launched 3 feet outside the blue line. UMD then added an empty-netter.
All in all, a fun experience. We're already starting to plan next year's road trip to Madtown.