(Note to readers: Welcome to Rinkytown, the new blog from The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Gophers, Big Ten Hockey and a considerable additional grab bag of things involving ice, skates, sticks and a puck. You won’t find Rinkytown on a map, just like you won’t find the real Hockeytown in Michigan. Rinkytown is somewhere in the vicinity of Dinkytown, where the coffee is hot, the popcorn is fresh and a stick salute at center ice comes after a sweep, always accompanied by the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." We hope you enjoy what you find here. Rah!)

If and when the hockey world returns to some kind of normalcy, two current Minnesota Gophers defensemen, and one coming attraction on the team’s blue line, will be headed to Michigan for a tryout camp, in hopes of representing the red, white and blue in international competition.

On Tuesday USA Hockey announced that Gophers rearguards Jackson LaCombe and Ryan Johnson, both of whom will be sophomores in 2020-21, and incoming freshmen defenseman Brock Faber are among 43 players invited to the 2020 World Junior Summer Showcase. The camp will be held at the home base for the National Team Development Program in Plymouth, Mich., which is where Faber has played for the past two seasons.

The camp, which will be held July 24 through Aug. 1, is the first look that head coach Nate Leaman will have at the American prospects for the team that will eventually compete in the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championships, to be played in late December and early January in Alberta.

USA Hockey officials, in a nod to preventing the spread of Coronavirus, are taking extra precautions, with some help from Minnesota.

“With the current pandemic, we’ll be doing some things differently, and that’s okay," said John Vanbiesbrouck, general manager of the U.S. National Junior Team and assistant executive director of hockey operations at USA Hockey. "It’s exciting to see rinks opening back up throughout the country and we’re most appreciative of the efforts of Dr. Mike Stuart from the Mayo Clinic, our chief medical and safety officer, among others, for guiding us in best practices to ensure the safest possible environment for our players and everyone involved.”

LaCombe and Johnson were both regulars on the Gophers blue line last season, after both were selected early in last summer's NHL draft. Faber is ranked 44th among American skaters for the 2020 NHL Draft, which is currently on hold. Of the 25 forwards invited to the camp, only one -- Denver rising sophomore Bobby Brink, from Minnetonka -- is from Minnesota.

Quartet of Minnesotans earn their (Tiger) stripes

The Class of 2024 at Colorado College, announced by the school on Tuesday, includes four Twin Citians among the dozen new faces that coach Mike Haviland will welcome to Colorado Springs in the fall. They are:

  • Goalie Jake Begley from Mahtomedi, who backstopped Hill-Murray's run to the 2017 state tournament, and played junior hockey in Canada last season.
  • Forward Ray Christy from St. Paul, who played for both Sioux City in the USHL and Brooks in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, after playing four hockey seasons at St. Thomas Academy.
  • Defenseman Chase Foley from Mendota Heights, another St. Thomas Academy product, who was named the top blueliner for Sioux Falls in the USHL last season.
  • Forward Jackson Jutting from Savage, who played junior hockey for Cedar Rapids in the USHL and for the Minnesota Magicians in the NAHL after a standout prep career for Prior Lake. His uncle Troy is the former Minnesota State Mankato coach.

The Tigers are scheduled to visit the Twin Cities on Jan. 2-3 next season, as one of the four teams in the Mariucci Classic.