Gophers strike early in shutout win over Penn State, remain in race for Big Ten regular-season title, read Friday night's game story.
Don Lucia's evening started with an intimate moment on the ice with his family. The Lucia clan, minus his son Mario who plays college hockey for Notre Dame, stood with the Gophers veteran coach when he was honored for becoming the storied program's all-time winningest coach on Friday.
The ceremony was short and took place 15 minutes before game time with fans still filtering into Mariucci Arena, but what Lucia appreciated most was having his family by his side.
"It was special they could be here this weekend," Lucia said. "[I've] had a chance to be here for 16 years and I've got great assistant coaches with [Mike] Guentzel and Grant [Potulny] right now, and great staff. But the family is there through the good times and the bad. ... It's always been a family deal and my wife has allowed me to do what I have done. ... I'm grateful that I've had the opportunity be here and my family to be here through high school and be able to call Minnesota home."
Lucia recorded win No. 391 last Friday night at Ohio State to pass longtime coach Doug Woog on the all-time wins list. After Friday's win against Penn State, Lucia is 392-201-68 in 16 years leading the Gophers hockey program.
Former Gophers standout Johnny Pohl took part in the ceremony by presenting his old coach a commemorative plaque. Pohl was part of Lucia's 2002 national championship team.
The Gophers kept Lucia's spirits up with a lopsided 5-0 victory to keep the team in contention for the Big Ten regular-season title. Their win eliminated Penn State from what started as four-team race this weekend, and Michigan's 5-3 win over Michigan State upset the Spartans' chance to claim at least a share of the Big Ten regular-season title on Friday night.
The Gophers have to win Saturday to have a chance to be the outright champion, but several scenarios could give them a share of the regular-season title. Michigan State-Michigan play at 4 p.m. on Saturday, so the Gophers will know what's required of them to defend their Big Ten title.
Friday's win combined with some upsets across the college hockey playoff landscape allowed the Gophers to jump one spot in the PairWise rankings to tied for 13th with Massachusetts-Lowell.
Friday’s box score.
(To view on mobile devices, click on player's/coach's name)
Gophers coach Don Lucia
Gophers senior forward Kyle Rau