St. Cloud State head coach Bob Motzko has been named head coach for the 2017 U.S. National Junior Team that will compete in the IIHF World Junior Championship in Montreal and Toronto from Dec. 26, 2016 to Jan. 5, 2017.
“It is a real honor to be asked to lead your country in what is considered one of the greatest hockey tournaments on the hockey calendar,” said Motzko in a statement. “The growth of talent in the United States has turned us into a perennial medal contender and I expect this year to be no different. I’m excited for this challenge and eager to begin preparations for our National Junior Evaluation Camp in August as we start shaping our team for the World Junior Championship in December.”
The job is Motzko’s international head coaching debut.
Motzko, who recently completed his 11th season as head coach at his alma mater, becomes the third current NCHC head coach to serve as head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team, though the first to be selected for the honor since the NCHC began play in 2013. He joins current Omaha and former North Dakota head coach Dean Blais, who served as head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team three times (1994, 2010, 2012), and Minnesota-Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin, who led Team USA in 2005.
This will be Motzko’s second time behind the bench for Team USA, serving as an assistant coach for the U.S. National Junior Team at the 2014 event in Malmo, Sweden, where he served under head coach Don Lucia.
“Bob has found success everywhere he has coached and we’re excited to have him as head coach of our National Junior Team,” said Jim Johannson, assistant executive director for hockey operations at USA Hockey, who will also serve as general manager of the 2017 U.S. National Junior Team, in a news release. “He has a familiarity with our player pool that should blend well with his ability to get the most out of players and we look forward to his leadership.”
The assistant coaches for the 2017 U.S. National Junior Team and other support staff will be announced in the coming months, while the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp runs July 30 to Aug. 6 in Plymouth, Mich.