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UND, Arizona State tracking toward a sellout for Las Vegas game

There are fewer than 2,300 seats available for the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game in October.

las vegas strip.jpg
A view of the Las Vegas Strip.

GRAND FORKS — UND's destination game in Nashville was pushed back one year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That meant UND had destination games lined up in back-to-back years — 2021 in Nashville and 2022 in Las Vegas.

Although the Fighting Hawks would prefer to keep them at least two years apart to keep demand high, it doesn't appear to be hurting ticket sales for the Vegas game.

UND is tracking toward a sellout for its Oct. 29 contest against Arizona State in T-Mobile Arena, according to Ralph Engelstad Arena general manager Jody Hodgson.

"We're less than 2,300 away from a sellout now," Hodgson said. "The lower bowl is completely sold out. So has most of the upper bowl. We're now into the inventory behind the nets. It's gone really well. I think it's going to be awesome. It's going to be a great crowd."

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This will be the second time UND has played in Las Vegas.

In October 2018, it played in the smaller Orleans Arena and instantly sold out 7,500 seats. This time, UND chose to play in the much larger T-Mobile Arena, home of the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights. It is located just off The Strip behind New York-New York Hotel and Casino.

"Like always with our destination games, it will be a pro-UND crowd," Hodgson said. "I think we've sold less than 200 tickets to the Las Vegas market. Arizona State, using the presale we provided, purchased 200 tickets. In an arena that seats around 17,500 for hockey, we're tracking toward 17,000 UND fans."

UND and Ralph Engelstad Arena are planning several events surrounding the contest, including a fan party on Fremont Street the night before the game.

It will be the first-ever meeting between UND and Arizona State.

The Fighting Hawks have several key players returning from their Penrose Cup-winning team last season, including Riese Gaber, Tyler Kleven and Ethan Frisch. They're also adding a skilled rookie class that features Carolina Hurricanes draft pick Jackson Blake and Philadelphia Flyers draft pick Owen McLaughlin.

Arizona State has re-tooled its roster by nabbing some of the biggest names out of the transfer portal.

The Sun Devils added Northeastern forwards Ty and Dylan Jackson, who played with Gaber in junior hockey. They also picked up Boston University forward and second-round Red Wings draft pick Robert Mastrosimone, forward Lukas Sillinger from Bemidji State and goaltender T.J. Semptimphelter from Northeastern.

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Next destination game up in the air

Beyond the Vegas game, there are no future destination games on the schedule for UND.

In fact, UND doesn't have the rights to any future U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Games, which have been used to schedule destination games.

The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game is exempt from the annual 34-game regular-season limit.

UND and Ralph Engelstad Arena have been in discussions to try to obtain the rights for the 2024 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game. If UND gets it, a destination game would be possible that year. If not, it could be longer than two years before the next one.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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