The UND Winter Sports Center (AKA Ralph Engelstad Arena) served as the home of the Fighting Sioux from the 1972-73 season through 2000-01. During that time the school won 5 NCAA championships and 8 WCHA championships. Constructed at a cost of $2 million to replace the outdated Winter Sports Building, it was one of the top arenas in the nation when built and had a seating capacity of 6,067. The facility also saw several additions and renovations, included one funded by alumnus Ralph Engelstad that led to the the facility being renamed in his honor.
Built as a hockey only facility, the arena had outstanding sight lines and fans were right on top of the action, making it one of the most feared places to play in all of college hockey. The metal construction and relatively low ceiling also contributed to making it extremely loud, reaching ear-splitting levels when the Sioux were playing rivals like Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Sioux pep band was also a fixture in the northeast corner of the arena. The bad would make it presence felt prior to games by playing the team fight song "Fight on Sioux" slowly, then playing it again and again, faster each time, whipping the crowd into a frenzy.
Die hard student fans were also an important part of the lore of the original Engelstad Arena. Perhaps the most well known were The Farce, who reigned in the late 1970s and early 80s when coach John "Gino" Gasparini was leading the Sioux back to national prominence. Students were also known to wait outside in subzero temperatures for hours on end to get into games.
In its 29 seasons the arena played host to numerous stars including Hobey Baker winner Tony Hrkac and NHL superstar goal Ed Belfour, teammates on the 1987 NCAA championship team, considered the best in school history and among the best in college hockey history. The Sioux played their final season at the arena in 2000-01 with the final goal was scored by Jeff Panzer in a first round playoff win over Minnesota-Duluth. The Sioux played an exhibition game the next fall prior to moving into their opulent new home, also named Ralph Engelstad Arena.
In addition to serving as home of the Fighting Sioux, the arena hosted the 1983 NCAA Frozen Four and also the annual North Dakota State High School Hockey tournament. Unfortunately, this venerable facility will soon meet the wrecking ball, but it will forever live on in the hearts and memories of Fighting Sioux fans.
- First Game - November 10, 1972 5-4 win over Colorado College
- Last Game - September 28, 2001 4-1 win over University of Manitoba (exhibition);
- Last Official Game - March 11, 2001 4-0 win over Minnesota-Duluth (WCHA playoffs)
- North Dakota Record at Arena - 400-171-22 (.693 winning percentage)