Sunday, March 28, 2010
On this date in 1987, the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux, led by 1987 Hobey Baker winner and national scoring champion Tony Hrkac and future NHL All-Star Ed Belfour, captured the NCAA championship at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan by defeating the Michigan State Spartans by a score of 5-3.
The NCAA tournament began with eight teams meeting in the quarterfinals, which were still a two-game, total-goals format.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers, second in the WCHA defeated the Boston College Eagles, the champions of Hockey East, 4-1 in the first game. While the Eagles would win the second game 3-2, Minnesota's three goal advantage from Game 1 stood up to take the series 6-4.
The Michigan State Spartans, second in the CCHA regular season and winners of their conference tournament, easily dispatched the Maine Black Bears 11-5 to advance to face Minnesota in the Final Four in Detroit, 90 miles from the Spartans' campus.
In the other half of the bracket, WCHA champions North Dakota took two from the St. Lawrence Saints, third in the ECAC, to win 9-4.
In the final pairing, the Harvard Crimson, champions of the ECAC, destroyed the CCHA champion Bowling Green Falcons in Game 1 by a score of 7-1, taking an insurmountable six goal lead into Game 2, which they easily won 3-0 for a final tally of 10-1.
Michigan State survived their semifinal game in Detroit against Minnesota 5-3, aided in part by a fluke goal when the puck caromed off the seam in the Zamboni doors behind the Minnesota goal, leaving Minnesota goaltender John Blue miles out of his crease waiting for the ring-around while the puck deflected into the slot for an easy shot into the unguarded net for the Spartans.
North Dakota advanced to the final with a stout 5-2 win over Harvard.
In the championship final, North Dakota prevailed by a score of 5-3 over the partisan Michigan State crowd which numbered a record 17,644 fans in attendance. Ian Kidd opened the scoring with a backhander before defenseman Murray Baron scored 1:37 later to make it 2-0. Just 18 seconds later Bob Joyce scored from Hrkac and Kidd to put the Fighting Sioux up by 3 in the span of 1:55.
Michigan State got a goal back in the second period, which North Dakota soon answered to restore the three goal cushion. Future NHL Kevin Miller scored for the Spartans to make it 4-2 after two periods. Each team would add a goal in the third for the final score of 5-3 as the Gino Gasparini coached team set a record with their 40th win of the season to finish the season at 40-8.
Hrkac led the tournament in scoring with 3 goals and a record 9 assists for 12 points and was named to the All-Tourament team along with teammates Belfour, defnseman Kidd and linemate Joyce.
Hrkac would lead the nation in scoring that season with 116 points in 48 games, far outdistancing his nearest competitor by 24 points, to set an NCAA record, while Joyce and Hrkac finished 1-2 in goals with 52 and 46.
After playing two seasons at North Dakota, Hrkac would immediately enter the NHL with the St. Louis Blues. In addition to the Blues, he would also play with the Quebec Nordiques, San Jose Sharks, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, which included winning a Stanley Cup in 1999, a brief stint with the New York Islanders, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and the Atlanta Thrashers. Periodically, Hrkac would spend time in both the AHL and the IHL, including a standout season in 1992-93 with the Indianapolis Ice, where he would win the league scoring title with 132 points and be named the league MVP. In 2004, he would help the Milwaukee Admirals capture the Calder Cup in the AHL playoffs.
Joyce saw action in the NHL with the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets as well as several years in the IHL before finishing his career with three seasons in Germany.
Freshman defenseman Baron would have the most successful NHL career among the skaters, playing 988 games with the Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues, Montreal Canadiens, Phoenix Coyotes and Vancouver Canucks, but easily the most recognizable name off the 1986-87 Fighting Sioux roster would be goaltender Belfour.
After playing a single season with North Dakota, Belfour would break into the NHL in a big way in 1990-91, winning the Calder Trophy, the Jennings Trophy and the Vezina Trophy with the Chicago Blackhawks while posting a record of 43-19-7. The next season he would lead the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 19 years. He would also repeat capturing both the Jennings and Vezina trophies in 1992-93. During his nine seasons in Chicago, Belfour would establish himself as one of the elite goalies in the NHL.
After a brief stay in San Jose, Belfour would join the Dallas Stars, backstopping the team to the Stanley Cup in 1999, while winning another Jennings Trophy, and a return to the finals in 2000. He would close out his 19 year NHL career with three seasons in Toronto with the Maple Leafs and a season with the Florida Panthers.
Today's featured jersey is a 1986-87 University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux jersey as worn by Belfour in his NCAA national championship season. Belfour wore #29 in college and no names were used on the back of the road jerseys at that time.
This always popular jersey clearly draws it's inspiration from the Chicago Blackhawks jerseys with the use of the Indian head logo and the crossed tomahawks secondary logo and is an icon of college hockey jerseys.
This jersey is a recent reproduction made by K1. When purchasing any K1 jersey, be aware that they "are made to be worn with pads", and as a result run a full size larger than jerseys from CCM, Starter and ProPlayer. Additionally, the arms are quite huge in width and it's not uncommon for us to take ours to a tailor to have them made narrower.
Here is a great find, highlights of both the semi-final game against Harvard followed by the title winning game against Michigan State.
Here is a music video tribute to the 1987 North Dakota Fighting Sioux, featuring perhaps the worst performance of the most annoying song ever written, but the rare footage of the team in action is worth the audio punishment. No points will be deducted for watching with the sound off.