St. Cloud has men’s hockey seeking revenge

Adam Fink

Embarrassing.

Tyler Hirsch used the word to sum up the last time Minnesota’s men’s hockey team faced St. Cloud State.

In the home-and-home series Jan. 3-4, the Gophers surrendered late goals both nights en route to earning only one point on the weekend.

The single point marked only the second time this season No. 7 Minnesota (19-8-8, 14-6-6 WCHA) has failed to earn at least two points in a weekend series.

“We were terrible last time,” Hirsch said. “It wasn’t fun to go up there (to St. Cloud) and we just didn’t play well overall.”

Hirsch and the rest of the Gophers wait to erase memories of their last performance against the Huskies (16-12-4, 12-10-4) ends tonight.

The teams rekindle their rivalry at St. Cloud’s National Hockey Center. But this time, final standings in the conference and momentum for the WCHA playoffs are on the line.

St. Cloud State currently sits tied for sixth place, needing at least three points and losses by Denver, North Dakota and Minnesota-Duluth to seal home-ice.

One point guarantees Minnesota the third spot; four points gives the Gophers the two-seed.

However, Minnesota has no intention of backing into the third-seed – or the playoffs.

“There is always the payback factor,” right winger Barry Tallackson said. “But, regardless, we want four points. They are our next door neighbors and we want to show them how well we can play.”

Coach Don Lucia believes tightening up the defense still requires the greatest improvement before the postseason.

This translates to shutting down forwards Joe Motzko, the Huskies high scorer (36 points) and Jon Cullen (33). In addition, highly regarded

forward Ryan Malone (49 points last season) is finally healthy after suffering through an injury-riddled season.

“It’s going to be an intense weekend,” Tallackson said. “There is too much at stake for a letdown.”

Seniors won’t affect lineup

Seniors Matt DeMarchi, Nick Anthony and Chad Roberg will arrive at Mariucci Arena on Saturday for their final regular-season home game.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean all three will play.

DeMarchi will play both nights, while Roberg is unlikely for either night. Anthony, an alternate captain, will see his rotation spot taken by Garrett Smaagaard on Friday but might see action Saturday.

On defense, junior Joey Martin has solidified his position in the rotation while rookie Peter Kennedy, who last played in January, will likely not play again this season.

In goal, sophomore Travis Weber will start the opener.