Although it was built in 1936, the Winter Sports Building did not officially become home to the University of North Dakota men's hockey team until the 1947-48, when UND officially began sponsoring the sport.

Throughout the years, however, one thing remained the same: it was cold.

Built without insulation, the temperature inside was usually only a few degrees warmer that the outside. The quonset-type metal roof was supported by wood arches. However, on cold days after a frost, the ice that formed underneath the roof would melt and rain on players and fans.

At times, the cold would sneak through holes in the building. Fans would huddle close over the 96-by-196 ice sheet staying warm. In between periods, fans would flock to warming rooms on each side of the building.

And, although it wasn't sponsored, UND President Jack West and athletics director Red Jarrett saw the potential of UND as a dominant hockey power. Students were playing on teams together at local rinks, but nothing on campus. Soon the creation of the Winter Sports Building, the first covered practice facility on campus, was in motion.

Throughout it's early years, it was home to intramurals and use by UND students. Some students formed hockey teams and entered them into the Northwest Hockey League, but they were not officially sponsored by the school.

Minnesota coach John Mariucci once referred to the building as a potato barn, and the name stuck. Sioux fans affectionally called their home rink "The Barn" even today, remembering the cold, the holes in the roof, and cramming together to watch the Fighting Sioux.

It was cold and might have lacked the finest amenities we have today, but it was ours. Our place to watch the start of the UND hockey program. Our place to cheer on the Fighting Sioux.

 

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