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Wild prospect Lucia opts for Notre Dame

by Mike G. Morreale /
While Mario Lucia won't be coached by his father in college, he'll instead follow a similar collegiate path.

Lucia, who currently is starring for the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League, committed to the University of Notre Dame on Thursday and will join the Fighting Irish in the fall of 2012. The decision closes the book on the countless questions regarding his collegiate destination as the 6-foot-2, 187-pound left wing also was considering Colorado College and Minnesota.

Lucia's father, Don Lucia, is the coach at the University of Minnesota but also graduated from Notre Dame in 1981 and played hockey there. Don lettered three times as a defenseman at Notre Dame and served as assistant team captain his senior year.

Minnesota Wild prospect Mario Lucia has decided to play at Notre Dame. (Getty Images)
"(This is a) chance for me to get out from my dad's shadow and start my own path," Lucia told The (Minneapolis) Star Tribune. "I just feel it's best for me to establish myself without any concern about who my dad is.

"I'm obviously excited to be heading to such a successful program. They're ranked No. 1 in (the) preseason and now have a new rink and national TV deal. All those things hopefully will create some excitement for the hockey program."

On Wednesday, Notre Dame announced it would become the 11th member of Hockey East beginning with the 2013-14 season. Additionally, the NBC Sports Network announced it would televise Notre Dame home games beginning that same season.

"Notre Dame is very fortunate to have landed a quality individual in Mario," Penticton coach and general manager Fred Harbinson said in a statement. "He is a gifted player that has not only size, but speed and skill."

In five games for the Vees this season, Lucia has 3 goals and 7 points.

Lucia was quite the story at the 2011 Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. Not only was he the first local player to be drafted, but he was picked in the second round (No. 60) by the Minnesota Wild.

The Wild traded up to select Lucia -- sending third (No. 71) and fourth-round (No. 101) choices to the Vancouver Canucks prior to the start of the second round. He was selected to a standing ovation. Lucia was one of two local scholastic players to be picked by the Wild -- Nick Seeler of Eden Prairie was chosen in the fifth round (No. 131).

Lucia, No. 34 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters, had 25 goals and 47 points in 24 games at Wayzata High School in 2010-11. 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.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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