Bob Motzko named new head coach of Gophers men’s hockey

Motzko will replace Don Lucia, who stepped down last week after 19 years.

Gophers players rotate on and off the ice during a game at 3M at Mariucci Arena on Feb. 16.

Easton Green, Daily File Photo

Gophers players rotate on and off the ice during a game at 3M at Mariucci Arena on Feb. 16.

Drew Cove

Minnesota only had to look 70 miles to find its next men’s hockey head coach.

Bob Motzko, the former head coach at St. Cloud State, will be the next head coach of the Minnesota men’s hockey team, the Gophers announced Tuesday.

“I am excited and honored for the opportunity to lead Golden Gopher Hockey,” Motzko said in a release. “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 met with his team at 1 p.m. to inform them of his departure, according to multiple outlets.

Minnesota’s former head coach Don Lucia stepped down one week ago, leaving the position vacant for the first time in 19 years.

Motzko is a familiar face to fans of the Gophers. He was an assistant coach for Lucia from 2001-2005 and was part of the 2002 and 2003 national championship teams with Minnesota. He moved on to coach at his alma mater and Minnesota rival St. Cloud State in 2005 and had been the head coach there until Tuesday.

The Austin, Minnesota native coached the Huskies to eight NCAA Tournament appearances and one Frozen Four appearance in 2013. This season, St. Cloud State finished as the No. 1 seed in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and replicated that with the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Huskies were upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Air Force, which ended their season Friday. After the signing, St. Cloud State’s athletics department released a statement regarding the former coach’s departure.

“I want to thank Bob Motzko for helping position St. Cloud State University among the nation’s elite intercollegiate men’s hockey programs,” St. Cloud State athletics director Heather Weems said in the release.

Motzko started as a coach under the other Minnesota head coach to win a national championship besides Lucia, serving as Herb Brooks’ assistant at St. Cloud State in the 1986-87 season.

Motzko also coached the last two United States teams at the World Junior Championships. The team won gold in 2017 and bronze in 2018 with former Minnesota players Ryan Lindgren and Casey Mittelstadt.

Minnesota will officially introduce Motzko as the head coach on Thursday at 1 p.m.