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Lou Nanne not happy about end of UND-Minnesota hockey rivalry

FARGO -- Like many regional college hockey fans, Lou Nanne has some reservations with the University of Minnesota and the University of North Dakota leaving the Western Collegiate Hockey Association at the end of this season.

Minnesota -- an original member of the WCHA, which was founded in 1951 -- will join Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin in the new Big Ten hockey conference next fall. The move was made to increase television revenues and programming offerings of the Big Ten Network.

Nanne -- who played defenseman for the Gophers from 1960-63 before going on to star in the NHL for the Minnesota North Stars -- said he understands the reasons behind his alma mater breaking away from the WCHA, but was quick to point out a key drawback to the conference realignment.

"I am not really happy about it because I think the North Dakota-Minnesota rivalry was the best we had as the Gophers," Nanne said. "Everyone knows that it is the top rivalry. I am personally going to miss it."

North Dakota will join seven other teams -- St. Cloud State, Nebraska-Omaha, Miami (Ohio), Minnesota-Duluth, Western Michigan, Denver and Colorado College -- to form the National Collegiate Hockey League.

With the Gophers and UND playing in separate conferences the two teams will not play one another until at least the 2015-16 season.

"I do hope that after 2015 that North Dakota is back on the schedule so that rivalry can continue," Nanne said.

Next season will mark the first time in 65 years UND and Minnesota will not play a game against each other.