Rick Gotkin: Leading the Lakers forward humbly

“ I’ve been at the same school a long time and that’s been a blessing, to work at the same school for the last 35 years. With that I work with great assistant coaches, and student athletes. I just steer the ship a little bit, it’s about the student athletes. They’re the ones that make us look good.”

Rick Gotkin has been steering the ship of Mercyhurst Laker Hockey for the past 35 years and remains as humble as ever about his opportunity.

To start the year, Head Coach of the Mercyhurst Lakers Rick Gotkin’s group went to Minnesota to face the Golden Gophers and did not look out of place. Both nights the Lakers hung around and forced Minnesota to play in a tight game on their opener, or come back from behind to win in the finale. Gotkin built his team to be ready for that moment as she said “we try to find guys that score goals, and play fast, and then we teach them how to defend.”

In a conference full of tight checking defensive teams winning 2-1 games with not many chances, Gotkin is comfortable building groups of speed and skill that like playing fast and winning run and gun games. He has been at Mercyhurst for all but one year of the program’s existence so it seems clear he is on to something. He loves for his program to play big schools when possible, even only as away games in part to “spread the gospel of Mercyhurst Hockey.” Next year, his group doesn’t have any of those games but they will see Ohio State coming to Erie for two, a home and home with Penn State , alao RPI twice at home , and Clarkson twice on the road.

On the Minnesota weekend Gotkin said “ That’s a great environment to go into and out guys really embraced it. We were disappointed in the final result , and we felt like it was much closer than the score. He did praise the experience for bringing the group together saying, we felt as good as good as you can without winning.”

Most of his key players should be back soon that were scratched from the weekend. He expects Steve Ipri, Carson Briere, and Dante Sheriff back soon. Mercyhurst earned a split without all three of that group in Saturday’s game against Canisius.

Going forward, Gotkin doesn’t really have a set lineup yet. He said with picking who plays, at full strength, Gotkin said “ we really haven’t set our top 12 forwards yet.” His staff is still “ trying to see what people can do.”

Once his group is at full strength Gotkin said “ once we get healthy we have some big decisions to make, if we make the right ones we can be pretty good.”

Going forward for Gotkin, building the identity of Mercyhurst hockey is always the driving force year to year.

On staying in Mercyhurst for so long Gotkin added “ I think there’s a lot of reasons.” His wife is from Erie, kids were born and raised in Erie and are Mercyhurst graduates. The town has provided “a lifestyle we really love.”

Gotkin’s group has a tough road series against Ohio State coming this weekend. As the Lakers get their skilled players back into the lineup, look for them to continue to surprise people this season, much in the way they out performed expectations against Minnesota.

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