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Letter: Problem for UND, Gophers is behind the bench

The past two NCAA hockey champions have been fun to watch. Both Union, this year, and Yale the previous year captured the essence of collegiate athletics, in that neither give out athletic scholarships; but still rose to the pinnacle of an NCAA sport.

The University of North Dakota and the Minnesota Gophers should also be commended for their fine effort in reaching the Frozen Four. The expectations for those two schools should be high, in that they are among the elite in resources, both financial and facilities, in the collegiate hockey world. Union plays in an arena which seats slightly over 2,000 fans.

Both Union and Yale, had lesser talent, if the number of NHL draftees on their roster be considered. But as Barry Melrose pointed out (and I do respect his knowledge of hockey), you could see plays develop and players executing a plan.

The announcers talked in this tournament about the fine traditions of both UND and the Gophers, which is true with many titles in their past. But what brought both Union and Yale to the pinnacle of the college hockey world was behind the bench. (Gophers coach Don) Lucia last won a title about 11 years ago, but from what I read, there is some pressure developing as the expectations in Dinkytown are high, plus he now has an athletic director who demands accountability. In Grand Forks, the current regime has yet to win a national championship.

You can only “ride” the tradition mantra so long. In my mind part of tradition can be equated to longevity. In that regard, the Chicago Cubs have a fine and long baseball tradition, but not so in championships.

Given the “tradition” but more important the resources available, fans of the Gophers and UND should expect more than mere winning records. I commend the players of both teams, their effort can not be questioned. I look one row back.

John W. Johnson

Warren, Minn.