Spehar finds old touch in Michigan

Josh Linehan

Dave Spehar didn’t get to enjoy his greatest personal accomplishment as a men’s hockey player very long.
If Spehar was indeed the “hot dog” some around the league have said he is during his four years at Minnesota, you would assume Spehar would have made a big deal about his first career hat trick Friday night.
But coming as it did, as the last of a nine-goal barrage, Spehar didn’t think an excessive celebration was necessary. He raised his stick briefly and patted his linemates on the head. Then he skated to the bench and sat down to wait for his next shift.
“It was a special moment,” Spehar said Friday, “But I didn’t get a chance to think about it too much until I sat down.”
It was the perfect opportunity for Spehar to flaunt personal success in the face of his critics — to finally strike back at those who have ripped him for years.
Instead, he took the praise in stride, just as he has taken the criticism.
“A lot of things have to happen right for anyone to get a hat trick. I’m just happy with the overall team effort. It was one of the best all-around games we’ve played all year,” Spehar said.
Linemate John Pohl, who broke Spehar’s all-time Minnesota high school points-scored record, fed Spehar for his first goal of the evening on a pretty backhanded pass.
That goal gave Minnesota a commanding 4-1 lead and established total dominance over the struggling Huskies.
And it was Pohl who immediately realized the significance of Spehar’s third goal late in the third.
Pohl jumped in the air immediately, then skated into the corner where Michigan Tech goaltender Jason Moilanen threw the puck to retrieve a souvenir for Spehar.
“I told him in the locker room ‘let’s go get the trick,'” Pohl said. “That’s something you wouldn’t normally do, but we were ahead.
“I was happy for him, and I wanted to make sure he got the puck. I was just watching out for him. He’d do the same thing for me,” Pohl said.
The last goal itself was a microcosm of the positive aspects of Spehar’s career in the maroon and gold.
On the power play, Spehar fought through a check from a much larger opponent, took a pass from Jeff Taffe and painstakingly flipped the puck to the only place the Huskies’ Moilanen couldn’t reach it.
“I was most impressed with that last goal,” Minnesota coach Dona Lucia said. “It’s the kind of goal I remember him scoring when I coached against him. Out in front on the power play, fighting through a check and just using those soft hands.”
Most importantly, the goal Spehar scored for his first collegiate hat trick was one that reminded him of earlier days, when hat tricks were commonplace for him.
“Coach told me he was excited about the last goal, and when I thought about it, I have scored a lot of goals out front on the power play,” Spehar said.
“It was the goal that felt like the old ones.”

Josh Linehan covers men’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]