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Gophers Hockey: Will coach's challenges happen more?

If necessity is the mother of all inventions, then experience is the catalyst to trying something different.

Minnesota during a timeout February 13, 2016 at Ohio State.
Minnesota during a timeout February 13, 2016 at Ohio State.
Nathan Wells

One intriguing thing that has stuck out days after Minnesota's 4-3 win last Saturday over Ohio State was a reappearance of the coach's challenge.

Leading 4-1, the Gophers challenged 3:32 into the third period of the game in Columbus believing that Ohio State's second goal by Luke Stork began with Stork being offsides when he received a stretch pass from Sasha Larocque.

"I think our guys thought it might have been offsides so why not at that point and time," Minnesota head coach Don Lucia told this reporter after the game, a 4-3 Minnesota victory.

If necessity is the mother of all inventions, then experience is the catalyst to trying something different. Rule 93.4 is fairly new to college hockey and states that "a team may use its timeout for the purpose of reviewing situations that are in the video criteria or a potentially non-detected goal. If the challenge is successful, the team retains its timeout."

The rule is, like the similar one in the NHL for this season, there without the hype. It's existed in anonymity to the point where I hadn't seen a challenge attempted or discussed until two weeks ago.

Now it has used in two consecutive weeks. Minnesota's challenge came exactly a week after the Gophers had a potential go-ahead goal against Penn State overturned via one. Nittany Lions head coach Guy Gadowsky in that case took the advice of equipment manager Adam Sheehan and challenged Taylor Cammarata being offsides by a foot prior to the goal.

"Blatant," was how Sheehan described the play in one word.

For the Gophers, however, the overturned call and challenge was in the back of their minds the next week. Penn State has been used to coaching challenges this year. The challenge at Mariucci was its second and the Nittany Lions had another challenged against the team earlier.

Minnesota took a similar path against the Buckeyes. The Gophers chose to give the challenge a shot, led by captain Justin Kloos.

"The guys actually said, 'let's challenge it'," Lucia said.

The challenge was unsuccessful. Minnesota lost its timeout in a game it still led by two goals, but as Lucia said the side effect was that it slowed down Ohio State's momentum.

And it did. That may be the biggest reason why the challenge shows up as more coaches, players and teams become aware that it is an option. If you're going to use a timeout to try to get back into the game and curb momentum after a goal, why not double check and challenge the goal?

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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter --