Typical of his low-key nature, first-year
St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko may be the only person
in central Minnesota who’s not hyped up about the
Huskies' recent resurgence. Since a Nov. 11 overtime loss
at Michigan Tech, St. Cloud State is on an 8-3-2 run heading
into this weekend’s home series with Minnesota Duluth.
The Huskies were most impressive last Friday
at Denver, jumping all over the two-time defending national
champs and winning 5-1. But Motzko, disappointed by his
team’s 5-2 loss in the series finale, says consistent
inconsistency still spells trouble.
“We’ve kind of stayed very, very
consistent in that we take one game per weekend and struggle
to get the second one,” he said. “We can’t
roll it just yet.”
Sitting five points back of fifth-place North
Dakota with two games in hand, Huskies fans are suddenly
talking about the possibility of catching the Sioux for
the final home playoff spot. The teams split a series in
St. Cloud in November, and play in Grand Forks Jan. 27-28.
Motzko recognizes that last weekend’s series and the
two upcoming will go a long way toward determining where
the Huskies will be playing during the second weekend of
“This six-game stretch will probably
determine where we’re going to go and we’re
feeling a lot better about ourselves,” he said. “But
we haven’t set any team goals, and that’s on
While goaltender Bobby Goepfert has been a
key player in the Husky renaissance (he’s currently
second in the WCHA statistically to Wisconsin’s Brian
Elliott), an improved offense has helped as well.
“Bobby has given us a chance to be a
pretty good hockey team, but he’s not the only reason
for the success,” Motzko said, praising the trio of
Joe Jensen, Andrew Gordon and Billy Hengen. “We’ve
won a lot of close games and have had some timely offense
from Jensen’s line.”
Jensen, who may miss this weekend’s
series after getting banged up in Denver, leads the team
in goals with 13 while Gordon is the Huskies’ leading
scorer with 24 points.
“Those guys were the ones we expected
to step up and score goals and that’s become a nice
line for us,” said Huskies captain Casey Borer. “We’re
kind of coming on and it’s a lot of fun. We’re
just about there.”
The Huskies early struggles may have been
schedule related too, with Wisconsin, Minnesota and North
Dakota all visiting the National Hockey Center in the first
half. The January and February home slate includes visits
by Minnesota Duluth, Alaska Anchorage and
Michigan Tech, which may be opportunities for the Huskies
to make up some ground.
playing the teams that are around us, and we’ll see
what we are,” Motzko said.
AND HEARD IN THE WCHA
Great Weekend Getaway
at North Dakota
(Fri-Sat) There are plenty of interesting series to
be had around the WCHA this weekend, with perhaps
the most at stake in the Red River Valley where North
Dakota hosts a hot Minnesota State Mankato club. The
talented but inconsistent Sioux are coming off perhaps
their biggest win of the season last weekend in Minneapolis,
while the Mavericks are looking to prove they’re
for real, heading to Grand Forks on a 6-1-1 streak.
Mavs rookie goalie Dan Tormey has been impressive
thus far, but we’re interested to see how he’ll
fare against the many offensive weapons in green and
While You’re There:
Some would argue that the stars of tomorrow are already
skating for the Sioux, but scores of future D-I players
will descend on Grand Forks this weekend for the third
annual Midget Hockey Classic, to be played at rinks
throughout the city. A dozen of North America’s
top high school-age teams will be in town, including
squads from Chicago, Boston, Thunder Bay, Kenora,
Pittsburgh, Colorado, Dallas, Winnipeg and Shattuck-St.
Mary’s. The best part for bargain-minded hockey
fans is that $20 bucks will buy you a pass good for
admission to every tournament game.
Nobody is making a stronger case for building a new arena in Duluth
than Michigan Tech coach Jamie Russell. Despite struggling
in nearly every other WCHA arena (including their
own), the Huskies are now 4-0-0 in the DECC
over the past two seasons after last weekend’s
sweep there, which was sparked by a three-point weekend
from rookie forward Justin St. Louis. It was the first
time Tech had swept a WCHA series since last season’s
trip to the DECC on Feb. 4-5, 2005.
know it’s unfair to target an entire group for
the actions of a few morons, class was certainly
in short supply among some members of the Minnesota
student section during the Gophers’
series with North Dakota last weekend. From the hand-lettered
sign mocking an injured Sioux player for being handicapped
to the shower of drink cups and other garbage that
rained down on the visitors after the final horn blew
Saturday, it was a weekend that sportsmanship forgot.
Father's Day: After last
weekend’s impressive wins by top-ranked Wisconsin
in Colorado Springs, Badgers coach Mike Eaves took the long
way home and got an even bigger thrill en route. Eaves was
one of dozens of friends and family in attendance at the
Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul Monday to see his son, Patrick,
skate for the Ottawa Senators.
It was the first time Mike had seen his son
skate in a NHL game in person, and the younger Eaves didn’t
disappoint. Patrick scored twice and added an assist in
the Sens’ 6-1 win, which was his first multi-point
game in the show. Afterwards, Patrick admitted being nervous
prior to his first NHL game in his home state.
“I had a lot of friends and family in
the crowd, but once you get out there and start hitting,
the butterflies go away,” he said.
The elder Eaves was positively beaming after
the game and, despite watching several of Patrick’s
NHL games on TV, noted how much more enjoyable it was to
be there in person.
“You don’t get the emotion or
the feeling of the building that way,” Mike said.
“And here you get to notice a lot more stuff going
on away from the play. It was a lot of fun.”
With his dad's team currently ranked number
one in the nation and Boston College, his former college
team, currently ranked second, Patrick said the prospect
of a Badgers-Eagles NCAA final would present him with a
big challenge, cheering-wise.
“I’d definitely have to root on
my boys, but I have to support my dad too,” said Patrick.
“That’d be tough.”
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• With his team spending a few days
in Minneapolis between series in Mankato and Houghton, Alaska
Anchorage coach Dave Shyiak became a big NHL fan this week.
On Monday, Shyiak watched the Wild and the Senators in St.
Paul, and on Wednesday, he brought his team to the rink
to watch the Wild beat the Maple Leafs. We’ll have
to wait to see whether all of that time in the home of the
WCHA Final Five will inspire the Seawolves to make a late-season
run and earn their second trip to St. Paul in the past three
• As mentioned on this week’s
INCH Podcast, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty may have been
showing his loyalty to his alma mater (Minnesota) this week
when he recommended no state funding in 2006 for the new
DECC project in Duluth. Pawlenty generally praised the proposal,
which calls for a contribution of more than $30 million
in state dollars to help build a new home for Bulldog hockey,
but said he could not support it financially until after
the results of a city-wide local tax referendum on Feb.
28 are known, and until the city of Duluth gets its financial
house in order. UMD officials in attendance at the meeting
where the governor unveiled his funding priorities were
understandably displeased by the news. Minnesota Attorney
General Mike Hatch, who is running against Pawlenty in this
year's gubernatorial race, is a UMD grad.
• With a banged-up Denver team traveling
to face the top-ranked Badgers in Madison this weekend,
one might think that Gabe Gauthier’s birthday might
be the only thing the Pioneers will have to celebrate Friday.
But Wisconsin alum George Gwozdecky has always been mighty
comfortable in his old team’s new home. Since the
Kohl Center opened in 1998, the Pioneers are 7-1-2 all-time
• The last time Colorado College experienced
a defeat as lopsided as the 9-1 loss it suffered at home
to Wisconsin Saturday, Brad Buetow was behind the Tigers’
bench. On Jan. 30, 1993, Northern Michigan put up a dozen
on the old Broadmoor World Arena scoreboard in a 12-3 win.
That was Buetow’s final season at CC. The next year
a young guy named Don Lucia took over the program and led
the Tigers from worst to first in the WCHA.
of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.