UND should do more to remember its bygone team
Six months later, the University of North Dakota’s decision to eliminate its women’s hockey program is fully sinking in. The first weekend of the calendar autumn is the first weekend of widespread NCAA game action.
Between regular-season openers and extramural exhibitions, five former Fighting Hawks will debut their new college crests Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Wisconsin goaltender Kristen Campbell has already seen action in a scrimmage with the South Korean national team. Ohio State will follow suit against the South Koreans with forward Charley Dahlquist on its side this Tuesday. Would-be UND recruit Kara Werth had her first college contest when Team Korea visited Bemidji State this past Wednesday.
In all, 13 of the non-graduating members of the 2016-17 Fighting Hawks will skate elsewhere in the NCAA this season. Two others have moved to a Canadian U Sports program.
They are all carrying on with their careers, accepting as best they can that they shall not roam the runways at Ralph Engelstad Arena. But an appalling development ensures that their ancestors will not so much as symbolically look upon that space either.
Two weeks ago, Dakota Student sports editor Kyle Kinnamen detailed the makeover to Engelstad’s women’s wing. The space will now house the UND women’s soccer team.
That move alone is innocuous enough, all things considered. But the facility maximized the overhaul by evicting every commemorative image of women’s hockey in favor of soccer shots.
Kinnaman opined that ushering in the soccer squad in the very next academic year was too soon. While that is a fair point, striking every specimen of the soccer program’s predecessor was decidedly uncalled for.
Dahlquist herself told Kinnaman in his column, “Yes, I do understand that a new team is in the Ralph now, and that is the main focus, but that did not mean you needed to act like the women’s hockey team never existed at UND.”
In fairness, the quintessential college hockey mansion’s lobby has salvaged some recognition of Brian Idalski’s bygone capstone class. This way, at least, visitors and game-day spectators for the men’s program cannot miss the history.
But that hardly compensates in full for razing every remnant in the student-athletes’ lair. Over the next three years, portions of the UND women’s soccer roster will have firsthand memories of their skating sisters. If they got a vote, it would be hard to envision them rejecting all reminders of who warmed their space.
Dahlquist, like many others, was apt to underscore the Fighting Hawks’ exemplary standing on the national leaderboard. While they never reached the same echelon as WCHA rivals Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth or Wisconsin, they nabbed national-tournament bids.
They broke the 20-win plateau in five of their final seven seasons, namely the second half of their 14-year run. They finished in the top half of the eight-member WCHA standings and retained a .500 overall record or better in each of those latter seven years.
Beyond that, they produced American, Finnish and German Olympians. And they could still see more of those to come in Canada’s Halli Krzyzaniak, among others.
Playing different sports need not preclude anyone from generating or deriving motivation from a peer. Playing — or at least storing gear and changing in and out of uniform — under the same roof only lends common sense to a crossover.
Realistically, based on everything they have done to date, UND’s higher-ups will not spring for anything better. But nothing can stop soccer coach Chris Logan, his staff and his pupils from creatively reminding one another that they are utilizing hallowed halls.
The easiest method this year is to post press clippings of the women’s hockey alumnae pursuing a passport to PyeongChang. Krzyzaniak was on campus last year, along with every current UND soccer sophomore, junior and senior. She is even a fellow Manitoban of junior forward Veronica Kessler and junior midfielder Kennedy Kidd.
The female Fighting Hawks futbolers also carry two hometown heroes in Riley Koberinski and Megan Schumacher. As if none of their teammates could to any degree, they could especially appreciate the legacy of the Lamoureux twins. The Grand Forks-raised Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux are striving for their third consecutive U.S. Olympic roster spots.
In a just world, those bar-setters would have formal tributes in Ralph Engelstad Arena’s concourse, rafters and bowels. Instead, it is squarely on the new occupants and caretakers of their old domain to properly preserve the program’s memory.
Displaying the likenesses and up-to-date statistics of ex-Hawks still laboring in the college ranks is the best way to go. That way, during its 2017 season and into its offseason regimen, the soccer team can do itself a favor by amplifying its appreciation for its own blessings.
That is to say nothing of the collective pride UND owes its alumnae for taking what they honed in Grand Forks around the NCAA, U Sports, NWHL, CWHL and IIHF. If cutting the program was as difficult a decision as advertised, then take a hint from Dahlquist and acknowledge its lifetime and postmortem achievements.