Austin grad leads Team USA to World Junior championship
Published 6:48 pm Wednesday, January 11, 2017
St. Cloud State head men’s hockey coach Bob Motzko, an Austin grad, isn’t big on saving memorabilia or tracking his career accomplishments. But even he can admit what he just took part in was a pretty big deal.
Motzko coached Team USA to the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championships when USA beat Canada 5-4 in overtime in Montreal Jan. 5. The team finished with a 7-0 record under the direction of Motzko, who is already back in the grind with his Huskies squad, that is off to a 9-10-1 overall start to the season.
“To get asked [to coach Team USA] was a bucket list thing. To have a great group of kids and great staff, it was a special accomplishment,” Motzko said. “Eventually a picture may end up on my wall from it. I don’t have too many pictures [from coaching] on my wall right now.”
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The grind for Motzko and Team USA was a real one. They spent 24 nights in hotels and the played in four different cities. It was the second time Motzko missed out on Christmas with his family due to coaching duties, but it was an experience he’ll never forget.
“You’re a little beat up,” Motzko said. “Your’e packing your stuff up every day and you’re eating chicken three out of every four days and the fourth day is beef. It’s a sacrifice that your family understands.”
Motzko is in his 12th season as head coach at St. Cloud and has named NCHC Coach of the Year in 2014 and WCHA Coach of the year in 2006 and 2007. He has guided the Huskies to seven NCAA Division I tournament appearances, including the last four tourneys.
Motzko said he picked up his love for sports in Austin and he began to think of taking that interest to the next level when the Austin Mavericks came to town.
“I don’t think I could’ve grown up any place any better. Sports dominated our world back then,” Motzko said of growing up in Austin. “Some of the greatest influences in my life where my buddies in my neighborhood that I played with and all of the teams that I played on. When the Mavericks came to Austin that’s when I realized I wanted to play in the USHL.”
Motzko ended up playing six games for the Mavericks, but then he was traded to Waterloo and had to play against his hometown team. He went on to play for SCSU before beginning his coaching career, which Motzko has now done for 30 years.
He coached in the USHL for eight years and he’s coached at the college level in Denver, Miami, Minnesota and SCSU. Motzko considers himself lucky for being able to coach hockey at the amateur level of as long as he has.
“To work with young athletes, there’s vibrancy in their world and they look at you like you know what you’re talking about,” Motzko said. “They want to be loved and they want to be directed. I’ve been darn lucky that I’ve been able to have a career in sports.”
Motzko will be in this year’s AHS Hall of Fame Class, which will be inducted Jan. 20. Motzko won’t be able to make it to the induction ceremony, but he plans on making it to the festivities Jan. 21.
He credits Austin with shaping him to be successful in the world of sports.
“I’m very honored. I think the reason I get this award isn’t because I was a great athlete in Austin,” Motzko said. “I think I get it because of what Austin did for me and what I’ve been able to do in my career. That’s directly related to growing up in Austin.”