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UND, Bemidji State to co-host 2023 Ice Breaker

The expected opponents are Wisconsin and Army. UND has not played Army since 1966.

2130031+110815 S GFH UNDMHOCKEY AustinPoganski.jpg
UND's Austin Poganski outpaces University of Wisconsin's Tim Davison in pursuit of the puck during the first period of a November 2015 hockey game in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — The Ice Breaker Tournament will be coming to this area next season.

In October 2023, UND and Bemidji State will co-host the season-opening event, which annually features four teams from four different leagues.

The Fighting Hawks and Beavers are expected to host Wisconsin and Army in the event. The Badgers will play in Grand Forks one night and in Bemidji the other night. The Black Knights will do the same.

This will be the second time the Ice Breaker has come to Grand Forks. It also was played in Ralph Engelstad Arena in 2011. UND finished second in that one, beating Air Force Academy in the opener and losing to Johnny Gaudreau and Boston College in the championship game.

The 2023 Ice Breaker will mark the first time Army has ever come to Grand Forks. The two teams have only played once — Dec. 28, 1966 at the St. Paul Classic in St. Paul, Minn. UND won 7-3.


Fifty-seven years is UND's longest stretch between meetings with any other Division-I program.

There will be a local flavor in it, too. Grand Forks Central graduate Lucas Kanta is a forward at Army. He will be a sophomore next season.

UND last played Wisconsin on Nov. 2-3, 2018.

The four conferences represented will be the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (UND), Central Collegiate Hockey Association (Bemidji State), Big Ten (Wisconsin) and Atlantic Hockey (Army).

Ice Breaker games are exempt from the 34 regular-season game limit, so UND will play 36 next season — 12 nonconference.

Although UND and Bemidji State will not play head-to-head in the Ice Breaker, they will still play two regular-season games against each other next season. Both will be in Grand Forks.

UND's other nonconference two-game series will be home against Minnesota, home against Minnesota State-Mankato, home against Alaska (Fairbanks) and at Boston University.

The Fighting Hawks' schedule is now complete for 2023-24 (see complete list of future nonconference games).


The Ice Breaker started in 1997. UND has played in it four times.

In 2000, UND competed in Ann Arbor, Mich., tying New Hampshire and Michigan.

In 2008, UND lost a pair of games in Boston's Agganis Arena to open the season, falling to eventual national champion BU in the opener and UMass in the third-place game.

In 2011, UND finished second in Grand Forks.

And in 2015, the Fighting Hawks beat Lake Superior State and tied Maine to win the Ice Breaker in Portland, Maine. It kicked off a season that finished with UND winning the NCAA national championship.

Bemidji State has never played in the Ice Breaker.

Due to the canceled 2020 Ice Breaker, there were two events for the first time ever in 2021 — one in Worcester, Mass. (Boston College, Holy Cross, Quinnipiac, Northeastern), one in Duluth (Minnesota Duluth, Michigan, MSU-Mankato and Providence).

This weekend, the Ice Breaker will have multiple hosts for a single tournament for the first time with Air Force and Denver co-hosting Maine and Notre Dame.


UND in the Ice Breaker

2015 (Portland, Maine) — UND 5, Lake Superior State 2; UND 1, Maine 1 (first place)
2011 (Grand Forks) — UND 4, Air Force 3; Boston College 6, UND 2 (second place)
2008 (Boston) — Boston University 5, UND 1; UMass 3, UND 2 (fourth place)
2000 (Ann Arbor, Mich.) — UND 2, New Hampshire 2; UND 5, Michigan 5 (third place)

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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