St. Cloud State University men's ice hockey coach Bob Motzko was named coach of the 2017 United States National Junior Team on Wednesday.
The announcement, in conjunction with USA Hockey, was made on NHL Live by co-hosts EJ Hradek and Steve Mears.
The 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship will take place Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Montreal and Toronto. The United States has won a medal at the tournament in five of the past eight years, including gold in 2010 and 2013. The U.S. won a bronze medal at the 2016 WJC under coach Ron Wilson.
"It's a real honor to be asked to lead your country in what is considered one of the greatest hockey tournaments on the hockey calendar," Motzko told USA Hockey's website. "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."
Video: Bob Motzko on becoming USA World Junior head coach
Motzko will oversee approximately 40 players at the 2016 U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich., July 30-Aug. 6. The Unites States will be joined by Canada, Finland and Sweden.
Motzko has spent the past 11 seasons as coach at St. Cloud State University. The rest of the coaching and support staff will be announced at a later date.
The 2014 National Collegiate Hockey Conference Coach of the Year, and 2006 and '07 Western Collegiate Hockey Association Coach of the Year, Motzko has guided St. Cloud State to seven NCAA Division I tournament appearances, including each of the past four seasons. They won the program's first NCHC Frozen Faceoff championship, won the most games (31-9-1) in a season and ranked third in the country in 2015-16.
This marks the second time Motzko will be behind the bench for the United States at an international event. He served as an assistant coach under Don Lucia at the 2014 World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden.
Motzko is the first U.S. national junior team head coach to make his international debut for the United States since Phil Housley led the Americans to a gold medal at the 2013 WJC.
"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, USA Hockey assistant executive director for hockey operations.
A 1987 graduate of St. Cloud State University, Motzko began his coaching career in 1986-87 as an assistant for the late Herb Brooks at St. Cloud State. The Huskies finished 25-10-1.
He later was assistant coach at the University of Minnesota from 2001-05, was part of two NCAA Division I national championship teams in 2002 and '03, and helped Minnesota win WCHA playoff titles in '03 and '04. Motzko helped produce one Hobey Baker Award winner (defenseman Jordan Leopold), three first team All-Americans, two second team All-Americans and many All-WCHA honorees at Minnesota.
In addition to Minnesota, Motzko also coached at Miami University-Ohio (1991-93, '94-'98) and the University of Denver (1993-94).
"[Motzko] 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," Johannson said.
Motzko twice was general manager and coach in the United States Hockey League. From 1987-91, he was GM/coach at North Iowa. In 1989, he led North Iowa to a United States Junior A national championship and was named USHL Coach of the Year.
He returned to the USHL as GM/coach of Sioux Falls in 1999 and won USHL GM of the year in 2000.
The U.S. will play preliminary-round games of the 2017 WJC at Air Canada Centre in Toronto against Canada, Latvia, Russia and Slovakia in Group B. The quarterfinal round will take place at Bell Centre in Montreal and Air Canada Centre. The semifinal and medal-round games will be played at Bell Centre.