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College Puck Tweets: "New Numbers & Nachos" Edition

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A quick winter dose during the summer heat.

To nachos and a possible new feature
To nachos and a possible new feature
Jonathan Daniel
It's still summer.

If we're being honest with ourselves, this is the time of year to take a vacation from college hockey. There's no upcoming Draft to read up on where NHL teams may take players. Development Camps are in the rear view mirror (minus a couple things). Other than being the midpoint between celebrating a new national champion and beginning a quest for the next, there's nothing to write about in late July. (This is probably why annually this time of year sees discussion, legitimate or not, like which schools could be adding D1 hockey.)

Anyone reading this now is a die hard college hockey fan.

That's great. I appreciate you reading this because it's late July. You're still interested. Honestly, you'd be better off doing anything else. Anything. You can read, or attend a different sport, or golf and pretend to be Happy Gilmore, or take a road trip, or watch "Entourage" for the 8th time in order to debate the true merits of E dating Ashley in season 6, or even getting outside and sniffing that fresh air.

All seem like good ideas because, short of buying a defunct Wayne State hockey sweater, the alternative is discussing either recruiting - a job that doesn't take off any time - or small news only important around this time of year. News like "what numbers will Minnesota's freshmen wear?"

Any other month and that would be an addendum to a story. In late July, it is one of its own alongside such gems as Ohio State naming Tanner Fritz captain or game times. Miami is spending its summer watching sharks. Dartmouth is going old school with Disney movies from the 90s and teaching Latin. Fresh off a WCHA title, Ferris State is mirroring the bizarre nature of that fact with another - hockey top 10 countdowns on ESPN - by awesomely showing a video of the top-ten 2013-14 Bulldogs hockey plays.

And I'm writing an off-season mailbag. Last week I asked my followers on Twitter for questions during this warm, desolate hockey-free time and they didn't disappoint. (Of course I did after spending a week working on that Entourage issue not writing the Mailbag.) For now, that means this is slanted towards Minnesota and not knowing much about North Dakota nachos, but it's something that might pop up now and again during the season. Hopefully by then it will include a national range of questions.

If you want ask a question for the next Twitter Mailbag, follow me @gopherstate.

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With the NCAA taking another step in the right direction last week by approving expanded video replay among other rules, it's getting harder to come up with rule changes. A couple, such as the "Adam Wilcox Rule," come off as common sense. (Of course, common sense is also easy when the wronged party chairs the rules committee.)

There are even a couple NCAA-only ones I wish the NHL would follow, like the "And 1 Rule" where a penalized team has to kill a penalty even if it gives up a goal on the delay. Same goes with not allowing penalized players participate in shootouts.

That's not to say NCAA Hockey and reffing is perfect. We gripe about it. We gripe online to the point where poor reffing proves Twitter's existence every weekend. Then we gripe some more to complete the circle.

Out of the new changes, the experimental women's rule allowing the use of a high stick seems in line with the major interference change in that I don't know how it will work until we see it on a weekly basis. What constitutes "major interference" is vague and judgmental. It's a catch all. There should be a concern for safety throughout the game, however, that shouldn't come at the expense of consistency from one referee to another.

Along those lines, my rule changes would make shootouts more uniform. In the case that someone stupidly gave me carte blanche like your question posits, that means I'd get rid of them completely. Gone. Short of Julie "The Cat" Gaffney saving America from the doom of an Iceland Jr. Goodwill Games dynasty, shootouts are gone. There's nothing wrong with a tie.

If I realistically have to keep them because the NHL has shootouts and college hockey minus fighting covers the same ground, I'd still make things consistent. Either every conference has a shootout that uses the 3-2-1-0 point structure and it counts in the Pairwise or no one does. None of this AL-NL designated hitter shenanigans. No more taking 3 paragraphs explaining team A took an extra point in conference standings in a game that officially ends in a tie. Most of all, no more non-conference shootouts which count for even less, cheap entertainment aside.

Rule two would, independently of whatever side rule one ends up choosing, expand overtime from five to ten minutes. The AHL is trying a seven minute OT with 4x4 and 3x3 play in order to increase overtime scoring and reliance on the shootout. It's something I'd like to see work its way down to the collegiate level.

The other change from the rules genie? Allowing the use of half shields.

***

Earlier this summer saw the biggest speculation that the days are numbered for Mariucci's Olympic-sized rink after an $8M renovation was proposed that would see the 200x100 feet ice surface narrowed by 7.5 feet in addition to other upgrades.

To do so follows modern trends. Despite an on-ice advantage (the Gophers were a record 15-1-3 at Mariucci last season) that matches the extra TV and media coverage off of it, 2014 is a different era than when the building opened in 1993.

Gone are the days when college players directly represented the US in the Olympics; something Minnesota, which had 9 players and head coach Herb Brooks on the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" US team, still proudly shows throughout Mariucci. Instead, the next step is developing for the NHL. It doesn't help the new Big Ten conference only has two rinks (Minnesota and Wisconsin) which aren't 200x85 feet NHL size compared with a WCHA that was closer to half and half. NCAA Tournament games, the dream for every team, are only being played on NHL rinks too.

Does that mean that Minnesota will fully commit to an NHL sized rink? It's hard to see that happening unless someone shells out the money to make it worthwhile. Coming down to 200x92.5 feet is a start to feeling closer in line with newer arenas. Both Notre Dame's Compton Family Ice Arena and Boston University's Agganis Arena were built in the last 10 years with a 200x90 feet surface.

Then again, the shift in rink size away from Olympic-sized rinks in the early and mid-90s once did too.

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All is quiet on the realignment front after Connecticut officially became Hockey East's twelfth member at the beginning of the month. No longer will your author be pointing out every first and new milestone in a way that gets annoying after the first 3 times. With the last few years seeing most of college hockey saying goodbye to old teams and hello to new nonstop, it will be nice to start seeing visitors treated with familiarity rather than as an odd curiosity over the next few years.

However, it only takes one program to start another round of college hockey realignment. Right now enters a period where the consequences are still being shown. At the same time, there are lessons to learn.

Besides, in the words of outgoing WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod, college hockey having its soul stolen, one lesson from the last round of realignment was programs wanting to band together in order to have a higher profile and exposure. That's where any college hockey changes are going to happen. The teams that feel like they are Browncoats or Confederate soldiers looking at historic changes on a losing side have more reason to reclaim the status quo.

If I had to guess: Outside of a new Big Ten team or two starting programs to get that conference up to 8 teams, the two big realignment options sometime in the next decade are either a WCHA team or two jumping to the NCHC or a group of programs around the Great Lakes (Michigan, Ohio and Western NY) breaking off and forming something. The rebranded WCHA stretching from Alaska to Ohio to Alabama doesn't seem a permanent answer for all ten teams.


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Right now Compher. They both are close enough to being in the same tier, which is a testament to Fasching's growth at Minnesota last season after slipping to the fourth round. What's more interesting is how much the duo, who played together in Ann Arbor for the US Development Program, have a lot in common.

Both were top-six forwards on Big Ten teams. Both played major roles on both ends of ice with Compher flourishing as a freshman center. Both were among the top freshmen scorers, finishing the B1G regular season first (Compher) and second (Fasching) in points. Both looked to be on Team USA's WJC squad last year (Compher missed the tournament due to an injury in training camp) and do so again this year.

They even both are Buffalo Sabres prospects after Fasching was traded from Los Angeles at the deadline.

Fasching and his combination of size (6'2") and skill on the right wing leads to a wider NHL role, but the 5'11", 185 lbs Compher, last season's Big Ten freshman of the year, has the better chance to hit a higher ceiling.

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via www.reactiongifs.us

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Assuming this is a Minnesota-specific question, Fasching. Nothing against Kloos (who quietly had one of the better freshman seasons among a deep Gopher forward group), Cammarata and the like, but I have a feeling he takes another step forward.

If it's not Minnesota-specific, there are few sophomore forwards throughout the country who should be in that group along with Kloos and Fasching. Quinnipiac's Sam Anas was the top freshman goal scorer last season with 22. Compher led the Wolverines in points and is a leader on that team. Several sophomores like Jake Guentzel (Nebraska-Omaha), Austin Cangelosi (Boston College), Mike Vecchione (Union) and Nick Schilkey (Ohio State) will have opportunities to be the man up front. Vince Hinostroza (Notre Dame) missed a stretch with an injury, but looked great at times.

I can go on listing a dozen more sophomores in contention, but the point is that any player having the biggest year, both individually and on a team, is going to require being put in the right spot and developing there.

***

If they have money then they can touch it.

I don't travel from hockey arena to arena like some kind of nomadic writing hobo (although imagine the tall tales if I did - people would be like, "Look! There goes Wellsy Hockeyseed again"). When I go to rinks now, I'm normally working in the edges of a press box, so it's hard to know which foods compare to which even if I did. Many of the foods that come to mind are from restaurants that exist outside arenas (looking at you Famous Dave's and Culvers). This is something I am curious about so if you have a favorite college hockey arena food, leave it in the comments.

Again it's July. For now. August is on its way tomorrow, and with it soon will be preseason prediction time.

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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation. You can also follow him on Twitter --