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Seeking sunshine and momentum as gophers travel to the state of Arizona for the first time – The Rink Live

TEMPE, Arizona – Some people go to great lengths to get home for Thanksgiving. Minnesota Gophers hockey coach Bob Motzko admitted this week that he prefers his turkey on the road after working in hockey for decades. It can be an important bonding time, especially in a team like No. 2 gophers with 10 new faces on the roster, and the street can be a place with fewer distractions.

As the Gophers make the first trip to Arizona in over 101 hockey seasons at the U of M, the distractions may come in the form of sunshine and temperatures forecast to hit 70 or more for any day the Gophers are there. For Motzko and his team, they’re striking a balance between enjoying the climate and focusing on winning both games before diving back into their Big Ten schedule the following week.

Motzko joked that he would let us know on Sunday whether or not the team was able to find that balance, but said they’re looking forward to a break from the Minnesota cold and a chance to see ASU’s new 5,000-seat ice rink , which is temporarily serving as the Coyotes home ice of the NHL.

“You know what’s going on. We’re going down there, let’s enjoy it,” said the coach after the team’s Tuesday training session at the Ridder Arena. “It’s Thanksgiving and on Thanksgiving I’d much rather be out than at home.”

Now 14 games into their college hockey careers, these new faces are making more significant contributions each week. With all the deserved praise for the Gophers’ veteran defensive core, rookie blueliner Luke Mittelstadt was named the conference’s first star of the week after scoring a goal and three assists in Michigan last weekend.

“There’s a bunch of great kids and obviously we’re a really good fit,” said defenseman Jackson LaCombe, who scored the Gophers’ first goal in Friday’s 6-3 win in Michigan after a assisted pass from Mittelstadt. “I think (Luke) is playing incredible hockey. Obviously he’s a stud. It’s great to have him with us and he’s just starting to show what he can do.”


The Sun Devils are 7-6-0 overall and have been flirting with the national top 20 despite losing a pair at Clarkson last weekend. The losses led to a five-game winning streak for ASU that included a win over Colorado College at Tempe and a win over North Dakota in Las Vegas. Excitement is high in Tempe with Minnesota coming to town, reflected in some inflated secondary market ticket prices this weekend.

“It’s a great opportunity. That’s how we have to take it and look at it as a top team in the country that comes into our new building and show what college hockey is all about,” Sun Devils coach Greg Powers said this week. “This is exciting for our program and exciting for our fans. We hope for a good show.”

It’s 1,600 miles from Minneapolis to Tempe, but there are many connections between the two rosters. Gophers forward Matthew Knies, who hails from Arizona, is good friends with ASU forward Josh Doan, and the Sun Devils roster includes five players with hockey -Roots from Minnesota an from Fargo.

Arizona State’s Friday and Saturday games will meet at 8:00 pm CT at Mullett Arena on the ASU campus. Both games will be televised/streamed by Pac-12 Insider and produced by ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Ben Pokorny and Joseph Furtado will name the games, along with sideline reporter Sammy Miller.

On the radio, the Gophers can be heard on 1130 AM / 103.5 FM in the Twin Cities as Wally Shaver and Frank Mazzocco detail the action for their 11th season together.

Post-game interviews with Coach Motzko and Gophers players can be seen live on The Rink Live YouTube page approximately 10 minutes after the last signal.

The Gophers are 6-0-0 all-time against the Sun Devils, their first series coming in March 2019. All previous competitions were held at 3M Arena in Mariucci, with Minnesota beating Arizona State 40-10 at halftime. Dozen. During the pandemic-affected 2020-21 season when the Big Ten teams only played conference games, the Sun Devils worked out an affiliate agreement with the conference in which the ASU received four road games at each Big Ten school in exchange for each Big Ten member who played two future games at Tempe. “We all owe them a trip, so I picked first,” Motzko said.

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