RALPH ENGELSTAD ARENA
GRAND FORKS, NORTH DAKOTA
GRAND FORKS, NORTH DAKOTA
Since launching the One T Society, we’ve featured rinks from a broad cross section of the hockey world— from small town barns in Saskatchewan to classically designed rinks like Ingalls Rink in New Haven, CT. Our collection would not be complete without including Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, North Dakota on the campus of the University of North Dakota. Or as it is more commonly known: The Ralph
The Ralph opened to much fanfare in 2001.
The Ralph opened to much fanfare in 2001 and was constructed at a cost of more than $100 million dollars. As a result of the high cost to build the rink and innumerable bells and whistles – including granite flooring, cherry wood and leather seats, and escalators between levels – the Ralph has also been nicknamed the “Taj Mahal of hockey”. In fact, Wayne Gretzky once opined that it is “one of the most beautiful buildings we have in North America.”
The mighty University of North Dakota (“UND”) ice hockey program calls Ralph Engelstad Arena home. The Fighting Hawks (formerly the Fighting Sioux) men’s ice hockey team is one of the most preeminent programs in college hockey. UND has reached the NCAA tournament 30 times, reached the Frozen Four 22 times, and captured the NCAA National Championship 8x, with the most recent win coming in 2016. Only the University of Michigan has won more NCAA championships than NoDak.
Given the program’s one ice success, it is no surprise that more than 240 UND alumni have gone on to play professional hockey. Some of the more notable UND grads to play in the NHL include: Ed Belfour, Ryan Johnson, T.J. Oshie, Zach Parise, Dave Tippett, Mike Commodore, and Jonathan Toews. The Fighting Hawks have also had two Hobey Baker Award winners with Tony Hrkac in 1987 and Ryan Duncan in 2007.
The Women’s program at North Dakota is a force to be reckoned with as well. While they haven’t won a NCAA championship like their male counterparts, the women won at least 20 games in five of the last six seasons. The program has also had three women go on to play in the Olympics: Michelle Karvinen, Jocelyn Lamoureux, and Monique Lamoureux.
The namesake of The Ralph, Mr. Ralph Engelstad, became a member of the UND hockey team in 1948. Englestad left after two seasons to move west and play for the San Bernardino Shamrocks and work construction. He eventually returned to UND to finish his bachelor’s degree in commerce. According to The Ralph’s website:
“The late Ralph Engelstad and wife Betty are UND’s most generous benefactors. The Ralph Engelstad Arena, one of the finest hockey facilities in the world, is an arena that encompasses Ralph’s vision, loyalty, perseverance, determination, sense of appreciation and strength of character.”
While Mr. Englestad passed away in 2002, his legend lives on in the hockey palace he built at One Ralph Englestad Arena Drive.