Mario Lucia going to play juniors in Canada
- Blog Post by: Roman Augustoviz
- July 8, 2011 - 12:25 AM
Mario Lucia has made one big decision. On Thursday, he let the twitterworld know he is going to play junior hockey for the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League.
On the surface, it seems a strange decision. His other option was playing for Des Moines of the USHL, a lot closer to home.
Maybe Mario just wants to get used to being far away from home -- Notre Dame is one of his three college options, Colorado College is another. The Gophers are his third.
Here is the Vees' blog on Lucia's decision. It hints at a couple reasons he may have chosen the Vees. It says he is buddies with the Reillys. The Reillys? That would be twins Connor and Ryan -- forwards who played for Sioux Falls of the USHL last season -- and Mike -- a defenseman who played for Shattuck-St. Mary's.
The twins have signed with the U, Mike has committed. All three could be Gophers as soon as the 2012-13 season when Lucia will start college as well.
There are two other Minnesotans on the Vees early roster as well, forward Joey Benik of St. Francis who is a St. Cloud State recruit, and defenseman Chad Bannor of Hermantown.
Benik put up nice numbers last season. He had 30 goals and 26 assists for 56 points in 60 regular-season games. But the USHL is considered a more physical league than the BCHL.
Lucia visited Penticton, which is about halfway between Seattle and Spokane, except farther north in Canada. When he was drafted by the Wild in the second round of the NHL draft, Lucia said he liked the scenery there -- Penticton is in a valley between mountain ranges and has two lakes near it -- the facilities and the coaches.
So does Lucia going to the Vees offer a hint where he will go to college? Not really.
But it's not surprising he is waiting on that decision. His dad hasn't signed a contract extension yet, Colorado College apparently is leaving the WCHA for the new "super league" in 2013-14 and Notre Dame seems to be trying to decide whether to join the super league or Hockey East.
The hockey landscape is changing. Quickly.
Mario Lucia turns 18 on Aug. 25. He has said he wants to play for his father, but understands the pitfalls associated with being the coach's son. His older brother, Tony, went through that.
On Tuesday, Mario will be at the Wild's prospects camp. He will be asked again if he has picked a college. He doesn't seem to be in a rush to make that call. At least one of the coaches will hold a spot open for "Super Mario" for as long as it takes to get him.
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