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Golden Nugz 7.14.11- New NOT-college hockey killing conference named, Guentzel officially back with Gophers, and more Gopher football recruits

The new college hockey "super" conference was officially announced yesterday: The National Collegiate Hockey Conference, made up of WCHA defectors North Dakota, Denver, Colorado College, Minnesota-Duluth and Nebraska-Omaha and former CCHA school Miami of Ohio.

According to North Dakota athletic director Brian Faison the reason for the creation of the new conference, apparently, is because these six schools (with possibly more to come) share the same values:

• They have highly successful programs.

• The schools are committed to competing at the highest level.

• They have the stature to get national exposure.

• And they have a wonderful history and tradition.

He forgot to leave out: destroying the WCHA for reasons that still need to be explained to me, and doing more damage to the game of college hockey than the creation of the Big Ten hockey conference. Seriously, what do the five WCHA schools gain that they wouldn't have had by staying in the WCHA and just adding Miami of Ohio and either Notre Dame or one more school? A commenter earlier this week said something along the lines of "UND or Denver would have won the WCHA every year, so it was pointless to stay" or something like that. Um, they've created a conference with the three other best schools from that conference- HOW IS THIS ANY DIFFERENT?

Again, just love the hypocrisy: fans of those schools crucified Minnesota for killing hockey when they left, even though the Gophers had zero say in the matter, but now their schools leave the WCHA for no good earthly reason and they're all applauding it.

Roman writes about how the defections have left the WCHA scrambling. The five remaining schools need to add one more to get their automatic NCAA bid back for the conference winner, and expect them to pull at least one, and probably more like several, of the remaining CCHA schools to fill the void. WCHA hockey will go on, but as a shell of it's former self.

In other less seismic college hockey news from yesterday, the Gophs officially announced the return of eventual Don Lucia replacement assistant coach and Mike Guentzel. The former Gopher captain and defenseman was an assistant at the U from 1994-2008, and should have a positive impact on what's been Minnesota's biggest problem area, the defense. He's got his work cut out for him this year with a VERY young-albeit it talented- group.

Final Gopher hockey piece of news: looks like Wild 2nd round pick and now former Wyzata star Mario Lucia is leaning towards attending Notre Dame instead of CC or Minnesota. Oh and yes, that IS Don Lucia's son, who sounds like he wants no part of the drama surrounding his pops at the U right now:

"It's a tough spot," Mario Lucia said. "Pros and cons, playing for your dad is tough. You are always going to be the coach's kid. Wherever [else] I go, if I go out, I will start my own name at Notre Dame or CC, which will be nice."

Gopher football held a Meet Their Seats event for potential season ticket holders at TCF Bank Stadium on Tuesday.

In addition to checking out the few seats still available for purchase, those in attendance were treated to a tailgate-style cookout, self-guided tours of the stadium and a talk and question-answer session from Coach Kill.

This is a cool idea, and shows just how hard Kill is working to promote Gopher football in a genuine way. Also, KFAN's Dan Barreiro did his show from the event, interviewing Coach Kill and QB MarQueis Gray. As the new home of Gopher football, good to see KFAN starting to put in some effort, as it used to be near impossible to hear anything positive- or really much of anything- about the program on that station. Hopefully the coverage will ramp up as we get closer to the start of the season.

FBT comments on commitments from two more Gopher football recruits from the state of Florida.