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Putting a Stamp on College Hockey's Year of Change

Looking back on a college hockey season that saw massive changes to the sport.

Matt Dewkett

Union hoisted the trophy and cut down the nets bringing another college hockey season to a close on Saturday night. Looking back, the 2013-2014 college hockey season will be remembered as the season of change.

On a personal level, we made a big change when we changed the name of this site a week before the season started. It was clearly a better, more apt name, but there's still some risk involved in giving up years of Google indexing and basically starting over from scratch. The results were overwhelmingly positive though, and our audience grew to multiple times what it ever was.

Much of the credit for that goes to the excellent staff here. Jeff Cox, Nate Wells, Evan Sporer, Ryan Evans, and Mike Rogers added an incredible amount of depth to our coverage. Matt Christians and Matt Dewkett made this site look downright beautiful with their photos. They're a fun group to work with, and their passion for the sport has taken this place to heights once unimaginable.

It was a year of change in the sport as well. The Big Ten, NCHC, and new WCHA made their debuts this year, in spite of the fact that some of us had to be dragged into it kicking and screaming. Much of it didn't work, and I suspect a good chunk of our summer will be spent analyzing what didn't work, and talking about a whole new set of tweaks, changes, and possible realignment in the west.

But what stood out to me the most this year was how refreshing it felt to see people putting so much effort into the promotion of college hockey. Regardless of your feelings about the Big Ten, you can't say the Big Ten Network didn't make an honest effort into trying to push Big Ten hockey and make it a major player on their network. Regardless of how you feel about the NCHC, they made an incredible effort to promote their new league too. Even the WCHA, which basically took the year off with a lame-duck commissioner, appears to be coming around with the hire of Bill Richardson to run the league. I look forward to seeing what they can do in the future.

Even if the people in charge continually make decisions that make the game less and less accessible for fans to watch in person, they're at least making an effort to make the game more accessible through other channels. I wish they were better with the former, because the atmosphere of a live game will always be the number one selling point of college hockey, but for the time being, at least we're heading in the right direction with the latter.

And you can even say the year ended with a change with tiny Union College slaying two traditional powers with long histories assumed to be #1 and #2 in the country all year to take home the school's first ever national title. It's not fair to call it an upset, or say Union were underdogs, because they weren't. They were pretty clearly the best team in college hockey, and it's always refreshing when the NCAA tournament's random-number-generator-format spits out what feels like the right result.

All in all, these are interesting times in college hockey, and this season was a lot of fun to cover. The games may be done until next October, but we'll still be around to get you through the long summer with any news that comes up, as well as leaning a little more towards the tangential with things like recruiting, the NHL Draft, international tournaments, and the like. We hope you'll stick around because there will be plenty to discuss with potentially more changes on the horizon, and before you know it, the next season will be here.

Thanks for reading,

Chris Dilks, managing editor