STrib: Gophers men's hockey ready to unveil renovated 3M Arena at Mariucci


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Nov 11, 2008
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Per Rachel:

As trends go, bigger equaled better in the 1980s. Think massive shoulder pads in power suits. Giant perms. Baggy parachute pants.

That hankering for the huge spread to college hockey, too, as Olympic-size ice surfaces — 200 feet long by 100 feet wide — came into vogue during the '80s. But like all trends, it ran its course. Which is why the Gophers removed the Olympic-size rink inside 3M Arena at Mariucci last spring, replacing it with a slimmer, 200x89 sheet as part of a $14 million renovation.

Fans will get their first look at the new ice surface, dasher boards, lighting system and additional seating Sunday, when the No. 3 Gophers face Bemidji State in an exhibition game. Players can't wait to put their refreshed stage into action.

"All the guys are excited to play on home ice,'' forward Jimmy Snuggerud said. "It will be really cool."

The arena's new ice sheet is a hybrid: skinnier than the Olympic size but wider than the NHL standard of 200x85. It replaces a rink built in 1993, after the 1980 "Miracle on Ice'' popularized the larger ice surfaces. Colleges began moving back to the smaller dimensions over the past 20 years, leaving only a handful of big sheets still in use.

Gophers coach Bob Motzko said the rink looks just the same when viewed from the concourse, exactly as he hoped. But he believes spectators will notice a difference when the puck drops.

"There's a reason [big rinks] are going away,'' he said. "It's a more physical game, a more offensive game on a smaller sheet. It's more fan-friendly, and you can recruit more versatile players.''

Go Gophers!!

Lots of feedback from fans at the exhibition. Sounds like those sitting close to the ice now have some issues with the glass warping the view and looking up at the extremely bright lights. Glad I always sit up about 20 rows or higher.

I made it to Mariucci for the for the first time this season on Friday. I like the changes, feels a bit more cozy.

Rhett Pitlick and the crew made it a rather fun evening on a chilly Minneapolis night.

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