The Gophers played additional “home” games at the St. Paul Auditorium and in Rochester. Early in the 1949-50 season, on Feb. 17, 1950, the Gophers welcomed Michigan State to their new on-campus home, and played the role of inhospitable host, dispatching the Spartans, 12-1.
It was the first of 549 games the Gophers would win there over the next 43 years. The last of them was on March 13, 1993, when they beat North Dakota in overtime to win a WCHA playoff series, giving the program a .714 winning percentage in Williams Arena (the hockey side of the building was renamed Mariucci Arena in 1985). The building would host the NCAA Frozen Four in 1958 and again in 1966, when Michigan State had a much better time in Minneapolis, beating Clarkson for the Spartans’ first NCAA title.
“It was a classic. Just a tremendous place, and the ice was always great,” said Lou Nanne, the Gophers’ captain in 1963 and a defenseman. “The fans’ proximity to the ice made it really good for the home team, and for defensemen there was more room behind the net than I’ve ever seen. It was like an extra playground where you could do a lot more things with the puck in all that room.”
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