The No. 8/10 Gopher Hockey program makes its 36th all-time appearance in the NCAA tournament this weekend, competing at the NCAA Northeast Regional in Manchester, N.H.
For the fourth-straight season and the 36th time in program history, the Gopher Hockey program will compete in the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament, taking on Minnesota Duluth in the opening round of the Northeast Regional.
The Chanhassen, Minn., native earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Big Ten honors for the second-straight season earlier this week.
The Gophers take on the winner of Thursday's Ohio State/Penn State game on Friday at 3:30 p.m. CT in semifinal action.
The Gophers are in the hunt for a fourth-straight regular-season conference championship this weekend.
Pride On Ice returns for season three and is produced by Gopher Digital Productions.
In the latest edition of Pride On Ice, the Gophers make a dramatic run to the NCAA title game.
Minnesota beat North Dakota in the last second to advance to the NCAA title game.
Minnesota meets the media following its win over North Dakota.
Don Lucia and Nate Condon meet the media at the Frozen Four.
Now in his 16th season at the helm of the Minnesota men's hockey program, Big Ten Coach of the Year Don Lucia will guide the Gophers as the Maroon & Gold look to defend their Big Ten title and return to the NCAA Frozen Four for the third time in four years.
In 27 seasons as a collegiate head coach, Lucia has compiled a 651-344-94 (.641) record including an exceptional 372-189-65 (.646) mark during his 15 seasons at Minnesota.
During his tenure at Minnesota, Lucia has helped his teams raise 10 banners to the rafters of Mariucci Arena, including back-to-back NCAA championships in 2001-02 and 2002-03. His squads have also captured five regular-season conference titles and three conference playoff crowns. In addition, Lucia has led the Gophers to 10 25-win seasons and nine top-three conference finishes. He is a four-time conference coach of the year, winning the award as part of the WCHA in 1993-94, 1995-96 and 2005-06 and earning the inaugural Big Ten Coach of the Year honor in 2013-14/
Joining the legendary Herb Brooks, Lucia became only the second head coach in Gopher history to lead his team to increasing win totals in each of his first three seasons. After Minnesota finished 20-19-2 in his first year, the Gophers went 27-13-2 in 2000-01 and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. His third campaign saw the team finish 32-8-4 and win its first NCAA Championship in 23 years with a dramatic 4-3 overtime win vs. Maine at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
In 2002-03, the Gophers took home their fifth national title, posting a 28-8-9 record en route to beating New Hampshire 5-1 in Buffalo, N.Y. in the title game. With that NCAA crown, Lucia became one of just four coaches in NCAA history to lead his team to back-to-back national titles. The 2002-03 squad also captured the Gophers' first WCHA Final Five championship since 1995-96 while finishing the season with an eight-game winning streak and 12-game unbeaten streak.
He has 22 NCAA tournament coaching victories and has led his teams to 16 career appearances in the event. Five of those appearances came while coaching at Colorado College as Lucia joins current Boston College coach Jerry York as the only coaches to lead two different schools to at least five NCAA tournament appearances. He is one of just six coaches in NCAA history to lead two different schools to the Frozen Four.
Lucia led his teams to at least 27 wins in each of the next four seasons, capturing a second-straight WCHA Final Five title in 2003-04 and reaching the NCAA Frozen Four in 2004-05. His 2005-06 and 2006-07 squads both won WCHA regular season titles and earned top seeds in the NCAA tournament. The 2006-07 team had a school-record 22-game unbeaten streak after a season-opening loss and finished 31-10-3 overall.
One of Lucia's best in-season coaching performances may have come in 2007-08 when the team finished 19-17-9 and placed seventh in the WCHA, but had a strong finish with three-straight overtime wins to reach the WCHA Final Five championship game and earn an eighth-straight berth to the NCAA tournament, which was the second-longest streak in Minnesota history.
In 2008-09, the Gophers were ranked No. 1 in the country for two weeks in November before Lucia was diagnosed with sarcoidosis midway through the season, causing him to miss four games as the team finished 17-13-7 overall and fifth place in the WCHA regular season.
The struggles carried over into 2009-10 when Lucia endured just his second losing season as a head coach and first since 1989-90 when the Gophers finished 18-19-2. However, in typical Lucia fashion, the squad played its best hockey at the end of the season with wins in four of its last six regular season games and a hard-fought three-game series loss at eventual WCHA Final Five champion North Dakota in the league playoffs.
Lucia, who received a clean bill of health from his doctors in July 2010, guided the Gophers to a 16-14-6 record during the 2010-11 season. The young squad finished the regular season with a 5-0-2 record in its last seven games before falling to Alaska Anchorage in the league playoffs.
After missing the NCAA tournament for three-straight seasons, Lucia led the Gophers to a resurgent season in 2011-12. Minnesota, which went 28-14-1 and led the nation with 155 goals, won the MacNaughton Cup with a 20-8-0 record in WCHA play. The Gophers, who ascended to No. 1 in the country during the season, won the NCAA West Regional with victories against Boston University and rival North Dakota at Xcel Energy Center to advance to the program's 20th NCAA Frozen Four. During the season, Lucia earned his 300th win as head coach of Minnesota (4-1 win at Wisconsin on Nov. 12, 2011) and he also coached in his 1,000th collegiate game (3-2 win at Nebraska Omaha on Feb. 25, 2012).
The 2012-13 season saw a continuation of that success as Minnesota earned a share of its second-straight MacNaughton Cup and the program's fourth in the last eight years. With a 26-9-5 overall record, including a perfect 8-0-0 record in regular season nonconference play, the Gophers led the nation in scoring offense and power play. The 2012-13 season also saw Lucia become just the 10th coach to earn 600 career wins with Lucia doing so in a 3-2 win at Michigan Tech on Oct. 20, 2012.
Lucia and the Gophers began a new era in 2013-14 as the team moved to the Big Ten Conference and went on to win the inaugural leage title -- Minnesota's third-straight regular-season conference title. The Maroon & Gold also returned to the NCAA Frozen Four for the second time in three years and earned the right to play for the national championship. Hobey Baker Award finalist Adam Wilcox backstopped the Gophers while earning Second Team All-America honors, Big Ten Player and Goaltender of the Year honors and First Team All-Big Ten status. Mike Reilly, meanwhile, was named a First Team All-American, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a First Team All-Big Ten honoree while Kyle Rau was named Second Team All-America and Second Team All-Big Ten.
Lucia has coached 17 first-team All-Americans, including 2001-02 Hobey Baker Award winner, Jordan Leopold. He also has coached 61 all-conference players, nine Hobey Baker Award finalists, and seven conference defensive players of the year and three conference rookies of the year. Leopold's Hobey Baker Award was the fourth in Minnesota history.
Lucia has helped many Gophers move on to the next level as well. During his 15-year tenure, 72 of his players have been drafted by NHL franchises including 14 first round selections. Erik Johnson was taken first overall in the 2006 draft by the St. Louis Blues while Thomas Vanek (2003), Blake Wheeler (2004) and Phil Kessel (2006) were all taken with the fifth overall choice.
Sixteen of Lucia's players saw action in the NHL in 2013-14 including Nick Leddy, who helped the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup the previous year.
Four of Lucia's former players, Johnson, Kessel, Martin and Vanek, were represented their countries at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia.
Lucia has maintained Minnesota's tradition of building a roster built primarily around Minnesota natives, however, he has also brought in several top-notch players from other states and countries to keep the Gophers among the nation's elite programs. He has been successful in attracting some of the nation's top players who have participated in the U.S. National Development Team program.
Prior to his arrival at Minnesota, Lucia led Colorado College, to a 166-68-18 (.694) record in six seasons. Tied with former Wisconsin head coach Jeff Sauer as the second-winningest coach in Colorado College history, Lucia guided the Tigers to a record of 23-11-5 record and the WCHA regular-season title in his first season in 1993-94. Colorado College had struggled to an 8-28 record the previous season and had not experienced a winning season in the previous 13 campaigns. The league title was Colorado College's first in 37 years.
Lucia, who guided Colorado College to an unprecedented three-straight outright regular-season league titles in his first three years behind the bench, helped the Tigers appear in the 1996 championship game and 1997 NCAA Frozen Four semifinals. Lucia was honored at the conclusion of the 1993-94 season as the 44th recipient of the Spencer Penrose Award as National Coach of the Year by the American Hockey Coaches Association.
Prior to his stint at Colorado College, Lucia spent six years as head coach at the University of Alaska Fairbanks where he posted four winning seasons and an overall record of 113-87-10. In his first year as head coach in 1987-88, the Nanooks claimed the final championship of the now-defunct Great West Hockey Conference, and Lucia was named the league's Coach of the Year.
Lucia has been a collegiate coach for 32 seasons overall, spending six years as an assistant following his graduation from the University of Notre Dame in 1981. He began his career as an assistant at Alaska Fairbanks (1981-85) before moving to the University of Alaska Anchorage for two seasons (1985-87). He lettered three times as a defenseman at Notre Dame, where he served as assistant team captain his senior year.
Lucia has also been active with USA Hockey, having most recently served as the head coach of the U.S. World Junior Championship team that competed in Sweden during the 2013-14 season. Lucia previous served as head coach of the national-16 team that competed in Finland in August 1996. In the summer of 1995, he was coach of Team West at the United States Olympic Festival in Denver. Lucia served as the president of the American Hockey Coaches Association in 1999.
As a prep athlete, Lucia helped Grand Rapids High School claim two Minnesota State High School Hockey Championships (1975 and 1976) as well as a pair of third-place finishes (1974 and 1977). He earned all-state recognition as a linebacker in football and as a defenseman in hockey his senior year. He also served as captain of the hockey team during his final prep campaign. He later was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League.
Lucia and his wife, Joyce, are the parents of two daughters, Alison and Jessica, as well as two sons, former Gopher Tony and Mario. Lucia also became a grandfather in the summer of 2011. The Lucia family makes its home in Plymouth, Minn.
Lucia at a Glance
Born:August 20, 1958
High School:Grand Rapids High School (Minn.)
Education:B.S., University of Notre Dame, 1981
First-Team All-Americans Under Lucia
Lucia at Minnesota