ST. CLOUD, Minn. (WCCO) — The NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament starts Friday and the team to beat is St. Cloud State. The Huskies are the No. 1 overall seed for the first time in school history.

“Ahh, it means nothing, to me,” coach Bob Motzko said.

Motzko’s been around too long and seen too many things to think there’s any reason to feel good about being the No. 1 overall seed.

“Anybody can win this tournament. So that means there’s 16 teams in the tournament, and anybody can win it. And the last handful of years, a 4-seed’s won the tournament,” Motzko said. “So if you start thinking that a number place in front of your name is giving you entitled rights to anything, you’re silly.”

But that said, the St. Cloud State coach does feel really good about his team.

“We like our hockey team. A lot,” he said. “They’re a great group of guys, great leadership, they train hard, lot of confidence, lot of depth.”

Well if there’s a way you want to be playing heading into a tournament, it’s the way St. Cloud is playing now. The Huskies have only lost twice in their last 16 games.

“Best thing I can tell you, is we love coming to the rink every day, with this group. They’ve got a great work ethic, we’ve got good skill, we can make plays,” Motzko said.

…all things they’ll hear very little about from him this week. They’ve got a great opportunity, and he’ll be too busy drilling into their heads over and over how possible it is they could blow it.

“It’s been an exciting year, and now it all cranks up, a whole new ball game, now you go in the NCAAs,” Motzko said. “So, they’re ready for the challenge.”

With the college hockey spotlight shining brightly upon them, they better be.

The Huskies open the tournament at 3 p.m. on Friday against Air Force, in Sioux Falls.

It’s a decidedly Minnesota regional, just across the border — Duluth and Mankato are the other two teams.

The Gophers did not make the NCAA Tournament. They were left out by .0001 in the Ratings Percentage Index.

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