Gophers have deep ties to Bulldogs rivalry

Minnesota forward Paige Haley has a sister who plays for Minnesota-Duluth.

Gophers forward Dani Cameranesi battles for possession of the puck at Ridder Arena Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016.

Sam Harper, Daily File Photo

Gophers forward Dani Cameranesi battles for possession of the puck at Ridder Arena Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016.

Tommy Sletten

Now in its 18th season, Minnesota has continuously been met with intense rivalries and heated competition during every season in the WCHA.

The elite in-state clash between Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth exemplifies both of these elements.

No. 3 Minnesota and No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth face off in a two-game series Friday and Saturday, an early showing of two of the best teams in the nation.

“Back in the older days of the WCHA, Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth were two of the powers,” said head coach Brad Frost. “There was always a lot of good hockey played with a lot of good players on both teams. It looks like we’re getting back to that now.”

Minnesota leads the all-time series against Minnesota-Duluth 49-24-7, and the Gophers have not lost to the Bulldogs since 2012.

Fresh off their first defeat of the season, the Gophers (3-1-0, 1-1-0 WCHA) will be looking to one-up their fellow state representative at home.

Frost insisted that the hype and preparation is the same as any WCHA game, and the team will be ready for a quality opponent to come to their arena this weekend.

Minnesota-Duluth (3-0-1, 2-0-0 WCHA) has gotten off to a hot start this season and has no losses so far. The Bulldogs swept Minnesota State in their first two games of WCHA play by a total margin of 9-1.

Frost said that he looks forward to playing the Bulldogs every year because the teams bring out the best in each other.

Minnesota’s rivalry with Minnesota-Duluth has existed ever since the Gophers joined the WCHA in the 1999-2000 season, and over the years the competition has become personal for some players.

Senior forward and captain Dani Cameranesi has seen immense success against the Bulldogs in her career and tallied six goals and three assists last year t Duluth.

In the past three seasons, the match-up was kicked up a notch for Cameranesi as her older brother, Tony, played for the Minnesota-Duluth men’s hockey team from 2012 to 2016.

“My brother played at Duluth, so there’s a little something going on there,” Cameranesi said. “I don’t know why, but whenever I’ve played at Duluth, I’ve played really well, so maybe it has something to do with that internally. I’m just really excited for the weekend.”

The series will also be a special one for senior forward Paige Haley, whose younger sister, Reagan Haley, plays for the Bulldogs. Paige Haley will have her last two series against Minnesota-Duluth this season.

PaigeHaley only got to face off against her sister in two out of four games last season, as she was sidelined with an injury for some of the season.

“Obviously it means a lot because my sister plays there, so every series we get to play them it’s a lot of fun,” Haley said. “It means more to me from a family standpoint. I always have a lot of family that comes and watches. It’s a little split, like they don’t really know who to root for, but it’s always fun to see my sister succeed on the other side of the ice.”