St. Cloud State’s nervous days are over, Bob Motzko says

PITTSBURGH — The road to the WCHA’s MacNaughton Cup can be a grueling one — as the chase for the regular season title is in any league — and it has been known to take a toll on teams in the postseason.

Not so for St. Cloud State this season, coach Bob Motzko said.

St. Cloud State finished the regular season with splits in the final four series, which was enough for a share of the league hardware and the top spot in the WCHA playoffs.

After a sweep of last-place Alaska-Anchorage in the first round, the Huskies bowed out of the Final Five with a 4-1 loss to Wisconsin in the semifinals.

Motzko doesn’t think his team lost any momentum down the stretch, but he did think they were a nervous bunch.

“We’d never been in that position before,” he said Wednesday, the day before the Huskies play Quinnipiac in the Frozen Four semifinals. “We ended up winning and were able to battle through and … win the MacNaughton Cup, and I think it made us a better hockey team.”

Nerves and the Frozen Four go hand in hand for many teams, but St. Cloud State might have it out of its system.

“When we got into the NCAA tournament, I kind of sense they relaxed and the nervousness had left them,” Motzko said. “I think that was the biggest key going through the region. We had been through our nervousness, because every week that last three or four weeks to win the MacNaughton was stressful on our team because we had never been there before.”