Accomplishment noted, but St. Cloud State wants more than share of WCHA title

MADISON, Wis. — It wasn’t much more than 15 minutes after one of the most important accomplishments in the 26-season Division I history of St. Cloud State hockey, and Drew LeBlanc was already thinking about the next step.

The Huskies clinched at least a share of the MacNaughton Cup and the top seed for the WCHA playoffs with a 4-2 victory over Wisconsin on Friday. It’s the first WCHA regular season championship for the school but at least for one night it comes with that “shared” caveat because the Huskies have a two-point lead on Minnesota and North Dakota with one game to play.

In this case, it seems no one in the St. Cloud State dressing room is in a sharing mood.

“Call us selfish but we want to win it outright,” said LeBlanc, the Huskies’ top-line center, “so we’ve got some work to do tomorrow.”

There are of course steps beyond that — the WCHA tournament and the NCAA tournament — but the Huskies were making sure to at least briefly acknowledge the gravity of their first, and last, WCHA regular season championship.

There wasn’t much in the way of a piling off the bench in celebration at the final horn but the satisfied smile on LeBlanc’s face afterward told the story.

The Huskies had a chance to clinch at least a share of the title at home last Saturday but slumped to a 5-1 loss to Michigan Tech. It was quite a change six days later after a three-goal, third-period rally.

“We’re a happy bunch of guys right now,” said LeBlanc, the senior captain. “It means a lot to our program, obviously, and the coaches and alumni and the community of St. Cloud. It’s a big thing. It’s a good time to be a Husky.”

St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko wasn’t exactly throwing cold water on the celebration but he didn’t want his players to get too wrapped up in it, either.

“We’ve got to celebrate another day,” he said. “We’re a bubble team. We’ve got too much to play for. And I’m not trying to take anything away from the accomplishment. I’m proud of these guys. They hung in there all darn year and had a very, very good regular season — an excellent regular season. But we all know if you screw up in the next two weeks it’ll sting. You’ve got to enjoy this for a short time.”