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Colorado College senior Westin Michaud is congratulated along the bench for his first-period goal to open the scoring May 22 in the NCHC semifinals at St. Cloud, Minn.

ST PAUL • The Frozen Faceoff’s third-place game is back in 2020, but beyond that, it could get the cold shoulder.

Every year there’s talk of ending the National Collegiate Hockey Conference tournament’s consolation game, primarily because of the fear of injury in a game that might not matter in who qualifies for the national champion tournament or their eventual seeding.

A year after his team played in the consolation game for the first time in CC’s history, Tigers coach Mike Haviland didn’t mince words.

“I think if it goes away, it would be a great thing,” he said.

Theoretically, there’s value in preparing for the game. And, it’s another chance to compete on ice.

“I love playing hockey, so I’m not going to complain about another game,” CC sophomore co-captain Grant Cruikshank said.

Last year’s Frozen Faceoff title game was a double-overtime thriller between Minnesota-Duluth and St. Cloud State. “Arguably, the best game we’ve seen in conference history,” according to NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton.

Earlier that afternoon, there was a much more forgettable game between CC and Denver. Denver was playing to maintain its seed in the NCAA Tournament, while for CC, it was merely several seniors’ last chance to suit up.

That didn’t translate to a good game, as Denver took control early in a 6-1 loss.

Denver has seen a lot of the third-place games — that was its fourth in the league’s six-year history. Pioneers defenseman Ian Mitchell said the vibe on that particular game day was decidedly different.

“We came to the rink and said, ‘Let’s play this and try not to get hurt, basically come out of it unscathed,’” Mitchell said.

Among the topics addressed in league Commissioner Josh Fenton’s annual address:

Fenton saluted Atlantic Hockey, which includes Air Force, for adopting the 3-on-3 overtime that the NCHC advocates. He said a survey was distributed among Division I student athletes, and out of 550 responses, “approximately 96 percent of all players indicated they’d like to see 3-on-3 a part of the national overtime structure in some manner.”

The results will be shared with the rules committee ahead of the next rule change year.

“We will continue to convey our position that 3-on-3 overtime should be a standard.” … The NCHC is moving forward with a project researched this summer to put microphones on referees, for announcing penalties and explaining reviews. … There are still eyes on appropriate recruiting timeframes that “attack unhealthy recruiting culture,” the effect a potential blanket one-time transfer exception rule would have, and a potential showcase in Europe.

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