Motzko brings solid recruiting track record to men’s hockey

David La Vaque

The phone is always ringing in Bob Motzko’s world, but lately things are getting out of hand.

After holding a press conference Monday to announce his acceptance of the assistant men’s hockey coach position at Minnesota, Motzko estimates his office and cellular phone numbers were dialed a combined 100 times.

Motzko comes to the Gophers after two years as the head coach and general manager of the Sioux Falls Stampede in the U.S. Hockey League.

He will replace John Hill, who took the head coaching position at Alaska-Anchorage.

An accomplished, passionate recruiter, Motzko is accustomed to hectic days and ringing phones. But the chance to merge his skills with Minnesota’s resources provided him a much simpler decision.

“A few of the jobs everyone covets from the outside looking in is Minnesota, Michigan and Boston College,” Motzko said. “And rightfully so.

“The whole key when you’re an assistant is who you work for, and I have a great amount of respect for head coach Don Lucia. Where you’re at is secondary and if it’s a place like Minnesota – what a bonus. Minnesota is right on the verge of being back on top. It’s a great job that happened to come to me.”

Motzko’s Stampede teams compiled a two-year record of 77-31-6, leading the league in scoring and power-play efficiency both years.

Motzko was no stranger to the USHL when he joined Sioux Falls. He spent four seasons as head coach and general manager of the North Iowa Huskies, leading the team to the 1989 U.S. National Junior “A” Championship.

Between his USHL stints, Motzko spent one season as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator with the Denver Pioneers. He then served in the same capacity with Miami of Ohio for six years, helping the Redhawks to the NCAA tournament twice.

“Recruiting is the life blood of all collegiate athletics and I have a passion for that,” Motzko said.

Motzko’s penchant for success at every stop made him a favorite of Lucia’s.

“One thing I’ve always liked about Bob is the success he’s had in places without a lot of resources,” Lucia said. “The kind of resources he has is where you have to get in your car and drive all night long. It wasn’t the gravy train.”

Lucia talked to Motzko about joining his staff at Colorado College six years ago, a position then filled by John Hill.

“Number one, you start with personality and Bob is a lot like John, they’re both upbeat guys with a lot of energy,” Lucia said. “They both like rolling up their sleeves and getting after it.”

Lucia chose Motzko over Mike Hastings of the Omaha Lancers and former Minnesota assistant Bill Butters and said Motzko will work primarily with the forwards in practice.

But it’s on the recruiting trail where Motzko will pay his biggest dividends. And after Lucia ended a 13-year tradition last year of only Minnesota-born players on the roster, Motzko hinted that further expansion of the Gophers’ recruiting boundaries might be forthcoming.

“Minnesota needs to have a finger on the pulse of the hockey world, not just on the state,” Motzko said. “And if there is a player out there that could put us over the edge, we want to be in a position to get him.

“Minnesota players are always going to be the nucleus of the whole program, but you want to know everything that’s out there in the areas you so choose to be. And we’re just going to expand our areas to see what’s out there.”

Biscuits

Lucia said Minnesota will bring in an additional forward should incoming freshman Garrett Smaagaard need to play in the USHL next season.

Smaagaard injured his knee last football season and missed the entire hockey campaign at Eden Prairie High School. He will see a doctor Thursday and compete in the Sioux Falls try-out camp next month.

“If Garrett did in fact end up in the USHL, we have had discussions about a player joining us in the fall to take his spot,” Lucia said. “And the kid is very receptive to the idea.”

 

David La Vaque is the sports editor and welcomes comments at [email protected]