Mario Lucia got his first real taste of what it will take to earn a roster spot with an NHL team.
Lucia, projected to be the first high school player off the board at the 2011 Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn., was one of six scholastic standouts invited to the NHL Scouting Combine this week.
As expected, the Combine experience was something the Wayzata (Minn.) High School junior won't soon forget.
"I'm going to get some rest and a nice hot shower," Lucia told the media following the completion of his fitness testing at the spacious Toronto Congress Centre.
"It was an honor to be here, fun and a dream come true," Lucia continued. "There are hundreds and thousands of players that would like to be here in my position, and I'm just living it up and soaking it all in right now."
The son of University of Minnesota coach Don Lucia offers an incredible release, smarts and knack for putting the puck in the net. He said the bike tests were the most strenuous.
"The VO2 test was easily the hardest; that combination of the Wingate and then getting little rest in between is just a deadly combination," Mario Lucia said. "The Wingate wasn't too bad since it was 30 seconds but that VO2 is intimidating … you just have to go as hard as you can and it's the mental part of it. It's not just going as hard as you can, it's trying to stay focused and not giving up."
Since the 2000 Draft, 156 high school players have been plucked from prep schools throughout the U.S. Since 2003, 135 players have been tabbed.
Lucia, a left wing rated No. 34 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters, had 25 goals and 47 points in 24 games at Wayzata. His team finished the season 20-6-2 following a 4-3 double-overtime loss to Eden Prairie in the Section 6AA championship at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis on March 2.
"I mean, everyone wants to be drafted in the first round and it would be a dream to go in the first round but my expectations are, hopefully, early second," Lucia said. "Either way, being drafted is an honor. It doesn't really mean anything at this point since you still have to work your way up there."
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