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Gophers Hockey: Minnesota, North Dakota renew rivalry in 2016-17

Both North Dakota and Minnesota have agreed to terms on a two-year deal that will see each school host once.

Elsa

Last January's 4-4 tie was billed as the last time Minnesota and North Dakota would face each other for the foreseeable future. The two longtime WCHA rivals were going separate ways to new conferences - UND to the NCHC and the Gophers to the Big Ten - and it appeared that one of the best rivalries in college hockey would be a casualty of realignment.

We now know when the tie will be broken.

The two schools announced Thursday a two-year deal to re-open the North Dakota-Minnesota rivalry and face each other in non-conference play beginning in 2016-17.

"We're thrilled to officially get North Dakota back on our schedule and to renew one of the greatest rivalries in our sport," Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said. "This rivalry is great for our programs, great for college hockey and great for our fans, and we're excited to bring North Dakota back to Mariucci Arena."

The Gophers will host North Dakota for a two-game series in 2016-17 at Mariucci Arena.  North Dakota will then welcome Minnesota in Grand Forks the next year. Dates for both series will be determined at a later time.

"This is a rivalry that our fans, alumni and team look forward to renewing," North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol said. "It is one of the most heated in all of college sports."

The two programs battled each year from 1948 to 2013 with Minnesota owning a 145-130-15 all-time record against North Dakota. There is still three years until the regular season rivalry is resumed, however, so the only current players who will play in this are freshmen. It also means there are three years until a new version of Neal Broten/Blake Wheeler scoring can happen

blake wheeler goal (via goalzrus)

Or maybe this:

Longest Goal in Hockey History? (via CBS)

Or a thousand versions of this:

End of Game between North Dakota and Minnesota 2/2/2008 (via badgersioux)

And also there's 3 years to just enjoy college hockey.

But Thursday's news is good for those fans and players who enjoy the rivalry on both sides and don't want to be asking "when will these two schools play each other?" over and over and over and over again. Both teams kept almost everything in realignment one way or another besides playing each other.

Now even the best rivalry in college hockey will continue.

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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also follow him on Twitter --