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Minnesota Hockey: Gophers hire Bob Motzko from St. Cloud State

The former St. Cloud State head coach is the man for the job

United States v Czech Republic: Bronze Medal Game - 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship
Bob Motzko will be the 15th Head Coach of the Minnesota Gophers
Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

The University of Minnesota announced that Austin, Minnesota native Bob Motzko will be the new Gopher Hockey Head coach on Tuesday. Motzko just completed his 13th season as the head coach of St. Cloud State and will now leave his alma matter and head down I-94 to take over the Minnesota program. Motzko will be the 15th head coach in Minnesota’s history.

Below are quotes from Minnesota Athletic Director Mark Coyle and Bob Motzko from the Minnesota press release:

“After 13 years competing against Bob, we are excited to welcome him back to Gopher Hockey, where he had so much success as an assistant earlier in his career,” said Coyle. “Bob has a unique perspective on the program. He grew up rooting for the Gophers, he’s coached for the Gophers and he’s coached against the Gophers. He’s spent much of his career and most of his life in Minnesota. He fully understands this program’s historic legacy and its unique place in our state’s culture. I know he will add to the tradition and success Gopher Hockey has enjoyed for nearly 100 years.”

“I am excited and honored for the opportunity to lead Golden Gopher Hockey,” said Motzko. “The rich history and tradition of this program is honored by so many in our state and around the country. We will work tirelessly to make those people proud.”

Motzko was a Minnesota assistant coach under Don Lucia from 2001-2005 and was on the staff for the program’s most recent NCAA Championships. He left the U to become the head coach in St. Cloud in 2005 and in 13 seasons compiled a record of 276-192-49. Motzko led the Huskies to one WCHA Regular Season Championship in 2012-13 and two NCHC Regular Season Championships in 2013-14 and 2017-18. Motzko’s best season as a coach came in 2012-13 when the Huskies won the WCHA Regular Season championship and made it to the NCAA Frozen Four for the first time. Drew LeBlanc was named the Hobey Baker Award winner for the Huskies that season.

Motzko also has some international experience. He was the coach of the US Junior National Team the past two seasons. He led the US to only their fourth ever gold medal finish in 2017, and led the US to a bronze medal finish in 2018.

Motzko was a two-year letterwinner for the St. Cloud State hockey team from 1984-86. Motzko began his coaching career in 1986-87 as an assistant coach for Gopher legend Herb Brooks in St. Cloud.

Motzko then went on to serve as general manager and head coach of the USHL’s North Iowa Huskies from 1987 through 1991. In 1989, Motzko led the North Iowa squad to a United States Junior A national championship and was named that year’s USHL Coach of the Year.

Between 1991 and 1994 Motzko served as an assistant coach at both Miami, Ohio and Denver. Motzko was named general manager and head coach of the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede in 1998. He led the Stampede to a 77-31-6 record in the team’s first two seasons in the USHL, and in 2000, Motzko was named the USHL General Manager of the Year before being hired at Minnesota.

Some Minnesota fans had some reluctance to Moztko as the #1 candidate due to his lack of NCAA Tournament success. Motzko has only a 5-8 record in the NCAA Tournament. His St. Cloud State teams lost in the first round as a #1 seed twice, once in 2016 to Ferris State, and this past season when the Huskies were the #1 overall seed and lost to #16 overall seed Air Force.

The question will now turn to who Motzko will hire as his assistant coaches. You would imagine the pull from the Gopher alumni base to hire at least one if not two assistant coaches who were former Gopher players will be very very strong.

Motzko will be officially introduced at a 1:00 PM press conference on Thursday.