Legendary brawl defines UND-Wisconsin rivalry
GRAND FORKS -- The University of North Dakota-Wisconsin rivalry dates back to 1968.
The teams have played for MacNaughton cups, Broadmoor trophies and even a national title, but one incident that occurred at the Dane County Coliseum has, over the years, defined the rivalry more than anything else.
Cary Eades rarely goes a week without someone asking about the Water Bottle Game, which will turn 30 years old on Monday.
"Unfortunately, it's almost daily sometimes," said Eades, now the associate head coach at UND. "It's got a lot to do with YouTube."
While preparing his team for this weekend's renewal of the rivalry (6:37 tonight, 6:07 p.m. Saturday, Ralph Engelstad Arena), Eades recalled the famous brawl that has been viewed more than 100,000 times on YouTube.
Eades skated past the Wisconsin bench on his way to make a line change. Wisconsin's John Newberry squirted Eades in the face with a water bottle -- for the second time during the game.
"Their door was open, so I went in to have a talk with him," Eades said.
Eades proceeded to put his stick up near Newberry's throat and ask the Badger forward what he was going to do now. Wisconsin defenseman Pat Ethier saw this exchange, ran down the bench and landed a punch on Eades that set off everything.
UND emptied its bench and a massive brawl ensued on the Wisconsin's bench. It spilled out down the hall into the beer garden area, where UND's all-time penalty leader Jim Archibald got into it with fans.
"They're fighting out in the aisles and every place else," the Badger announcer exclaimed. "They're fighting with the police! They're fighting with the fans! North Dakota has done it again."
Just as the fights started to calm, Archibald ran back from the beer garden area and landed a haymaker on a Badger player, sparking more fights.
UND defenseman Craig Ludwig skated over to Eades and let him know that Ethier was the guy who punched him at the start of the fight, so Eades grabbed Ethier and went to fight him on the ice.
Eades wrestled his way on top of Ethier when he felt someone grab his shoulder and say, "One more punch and you're going to jail." When Eades looked behind him, two police officers were standing there.
"That freaked me out," Eades said. "I don't know if it was real or not ... today, it probably would be."
At the end of the brawl, Wisconsin's Todd Lecy started launching UND's abandoned equipment -- gloves and sticks -- into the stands.
Eades, Archibald and Dan Brennan received game disqualifications for UND. Newberry, Ethier and Steve McKenzie of Wisconsin also were given DQs.
Later, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association added two-game suspensions for Newberry and Eades and a five-game suspension for Archibald. Wisconsin won the game 3-0.
While everyone remembers the brawl, Eades prefers to think about and talk about the other aspects of the rivalry that season. The teams split in Madison. UND swept the Badgers in Grand Forks to win the MacNaughton Cup. Wisconsin swept UND to win the Broadmoor Trophy. And the teams went on to play for the national title that season.
"The season series was 3-3 and that was Game 7, you could say," Eades said. "It was tied 2-2 after two periods. Then we got three in the third. If you go down the list of guys who played in that game, I don't know if there's ever been a college game with as many NHL games played as those two teams."
UND had James Patrick (21 seasons, 1,280 games) and Ludwig (17 seasons, 1,256 games), among others. Wisconsin had Chris Chelios (26 seasons, 1,651 games). But that's not what Eades gets asked about these days.
"From my personal standpoint, (the brawl) kind of overshadows a lot of good things I accomplished in my college career," Eades said. "I was very fortunate to have a lot of good teammates and good seasons, but that's the only thing anyone wants to talk about. I'd rather talk about the four goals in one period, but there's no video of that. The fights and controversy and uproar are what people talk about at the hockey games and the beverage places afterward.
"Hopefully, with the 30 years, we can put it in a casket and bury it."
Schlossman is a sports reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.