Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.

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'Blame me,' Lucia tells fans upset with Gophers' early NCAA exit

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under Gophers, Men's hockey, Gophers roster moves Updated: April 2, 2013 - 8:46 AM

Gophers coach Don Lucia always says he understands that passionate fans sometimes get upset  when his team loses.

If you read the message boards or the comments on recent stories in the Star Tribune on the Gophers, some are upset now.

"Don't blame the players, if you want to blame somebody. blame me," Lucia said on his final Monday radio show of the season. "That goes with the territory.

"You still have to look at the big picture and what the kids accomplished. ... It was a pretty good run for our guys."

And now it's over for some of them.

"Obviously, we will miss Seth Helgeson," Lucia said.

Helgy was the lone senior on the team this season. A big defensive defenseman. He was part of a class of four, including Zach Budish who had a medical redshirt year and is considered a junior now eligibility-wise.

But Helgy won't be the only Gopher leaving. Some will turn pro early, before their college eligibility is up.

"Now we have to wait to see what happens," Lucia said. "Some kids will make decisions over next week or so."

Lucia talks to all of his players after the season ends. And those who want to leave, he won't try to persuade them otherwise.

"We can't talk kids into staying, and we shouldn't," he said. 

Lucia said he wants his players to have both feet in the program, not one foot out the door.

"And the last few years, the guys that stayed had both feet in," Lucia said.

Lucia said he also plans to watch a few USHL games soon to see how the players the Gophers recruited -- some of whom signed last November -- are looking.

"We will have a  little injection of offense with some incoming freshman forwards, which I think we will need," Lucia said.

The Gophers  needed some extra offense this season, too, as it turned out.

Freshman Connor Reilly, the Gophers most exciting offensive prospect coming into the season, didn't play a game. He suffered a preseason injury (torn ACL) at a team party and needed surgery.

He has started to skate with the team the last month. "He will be fine next year," Lucia said.

But he expects there won't be a next year for several of his top junior forwards.

After Friday's 3-2 overtime loss to Yale, team captain Budish said he will be back next season. But Lucia is not even sure about Budish, a redshirt junior who has been at the U of M for four years.

"Zach graduates this spring," Lucia said. "Nashville does want to sign him. It would be great if he comes back [as a grad student], but we understand if he doesn't. ... We will lose some good players, good kids."

The Predators drafted Budish several years ago.

The big risks of going early are Nick Bjugstad, who went well into the summer a year ago before deciding not to sign with the Florida Panthers. The NHL lockout was looming at the time. There is no such threat this year.

Erik Haula, the Gophers leading scorer with a career-high 51 points,  is a Wild prospect and the team has seen him play a lot.

"Honestly, Bjugstad, Haula and Budish up front are  juniors who have had good years, and [NHL] teams want them," Lucia said.   "And [defensman] Nate Schmidt, being a free agent, people are knocking on his door."


Expected to replace those forwards will be players like Taylor Cammarata and Justin Kloos of the Waterloo Black Hawks.

Cammarata. of Plymouth, is only 5-7, 156 but he has made a big impact on the USHL this season. In 53 games, he has 34 goals and 48 assists for a league-leading 82 points. He is a plus-32.

He has 24 points on power plays, including 10 goals, and has five game-winning goals.

This is Cammarata's second full season in the USHL. He turns 18 on May 13.

Only five points behind him, in second in USHL scoring, is Kloos. He finished high school at Lakeville South before playing in the USHL.

In his first full season of junior hockey, Kloos has 26 goals and 51 assists for 71 points. He is a plus-27 and has 28 points, including 10 goals on the power play.

Kloos is a litlte bigger, 5-9, 170, and older, at 19,  than Cammarata.

Their team is in fourth place in the Western Conference of the USHL, still fighting for a playoff spot with two weeks and six games, four on the road, left in the regular season.

Waterloo is 33-21-4 (four overtime losses) this season, which adds up to 70 points. The Black Hawks are the highest scoring team in the USHL with 242 goals, but have given up 203, the third most in their conference.

Gabe Guertler, of Plantation, Fla., is another USHL forward that Lucia expects to be on the Gophers' roster next season.

He is about Kloos' size, 5-9, 178, and turns 18 on May 3. He has 31 goals and 20 assists for 50 points for Fargo in 58 games.

He is a plus-22, and has five shorthanded goals and seven on power plays. His goal total jumped from nine last season at Fargo to 31 this season.

A recent story on Guertler is here.

Then there isHudson  Fasching, of Apple Valley. He is a fourth forward who will join the Gophers next season. He plays for the the U.S. national development team in Ann Arbor, Mich. He has 11 goals and 18 assists for 29 points in 57 games.

He has size. Fasching, who is 18, is 6-2, 214.

Lucia also mentioned Vinnie Letteiri as another possible forward next season. Lettieri is a scorer, too. He has 22 goals and 28 assists for 50 points in 57 games for Lincoln. He and Guertler are tied for 25th in USHL scoring.

Letteiri, who played high school hockey for Minnetonka, is a grandson of Lou Nanne's. He is 5-8, 170 and 18 years old.

So the Gophers will get younger and smaller up front.

But Lucia is optimistic. "Those guys will be able to bring it ... And four or five of them will come in," he said.

The Gophers will also bring in one defenseman for sure, Lucia said, and move junior Justin Holl back to that position, his normal position. He has played forward a lot this season.


* On the Big Ten Conference: "It is going to be a little different. Going into a new conference, you don't have great feel for your opponents." The Gophers did sweep a series from Michigan State this season and played Wisconsin four times. The other three teams in the new conference will be Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.

* On how to increase scoring in college hockey: "If you saw the Yale game, there were 25 blocked shots. ... I don't think it would hurt to make the goals a little bigger." He suggested putting the pipes on the outside of the present pipes. "[So] every time it hits the pipes now, [the puck] is in the net."


St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko does not want NCAA regionals to return to campuses -- at least not quite yet.

Regionals at neutral sites have not drawn well,  Motzko said, but that is because tickets are over-priced.

He wants the NCAA to try regionals his way at least once. Cut ticket prices for everybody, Motzko said, then let youth in for $5. Give each school 250 tickets for students, then bus them in for more atmosphere.

"We were a fourth seed [in Toledo, Ohio]," Motzko said. "It wold have been very difficult for us to win at Notre Dame."

The Irish were the No. 1 seed and, under a plan being suggest by many, would have hosted the regional if the NCAA had gone back this year to campus sites.


* The Huskies leave for Pittsburgh, the site of the Frozen Four, on Tuesday of next week.

* Motzko is currently batlting a cold. And Motzko on SCSU going to Frozen Four: "There is nothing like the first time."





Golden State 99 FINAL
Cleveland 110
Oklahoma City 25 2nd Qtr 6:42
Phoenix 36
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Arizona 3 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Montreal 5 FINAL
Columbus 2
Philadelphia 2 FINAL
Toronto 3
Chicago 3 FINAL
Florida 0
St. Louis 2 FINAL(SO)
Winnipeg 1
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Nashville 2
Ottawa 0 2nd Prd 17:48
Los Angeles 1
Detroit 0 2nd Prd 18:35
San Jose 1
Northern Ky 78 FINAL
Kennesaw St 53
East Tenn St 73 FINAL
Citadel 74
Winthrop 50 FINAL
Campbell 65
Delaware 58 FINAL
Drexel 44
Jacksonville St 57 FINAL
Eastern Ky 63
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Elon 72
Sacred Heart 90 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 85
Western Carolina 49 FINAL
Furman 53
Char Southern 81 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 91
Western Ill 66 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 73 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 67
Radford 69 FINAL
Liberty 80
St Francis-NY 74 FINAL
Long Island 69
Wofford 76 FINAL
Mercer 72
Minnesota 96 FINAL
Michigan State 90
High Point 75 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 71
Samford 67 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Nebraska 57 FINAL
Ohio State 81
Wagner 59 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Mount St Marys 60 FINAL
St Francis-PA 63
Houston 54 FINAL
Temple 66
Vanderbilt 73 FINAL
Tennessee 65
Chattanooga 86 FINAL
Va Military 82
Milwaukee 61 FINAL
Wright State 58
Coastal Carolina 69 FINAL
Presbyterian 80
Central Conn St 69 FINAL
Bryant 77
Ga Southern 77 FINAL
Appalachian St 58
SIU Edwardsville 61 FINAL
Austin Peay 64
Green Bay 72 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 67
Texas-El Paso 60 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 77
Marshall 87
Rider 63 FINAL
Monmouth 60
Eastern Ill 57 FINAL
Murray State 65
Charlotte 65 FINAL
North Texas 81
North Dakota St 58 FINAL
Oral Roberts 74
Old Dominion 63 FINAL
Rice 54
TX-San Antonio 66 FINAL
Southern Miss 70
UT Martin 69 FINAL
Tennessee St 52
Fla Atlantic 68 FINAL
Western Ky 71
Northern Ariz 85 FINAL
North Dakota 75
Grand Canyon 70 FINAL
Chicago State 74
Utah Valley U 50 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Texas-Arlington 80 FINAL
Arkansas State 81
Georgia State 83 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 92
Troy 61 FINAL
Texas State 67
Arizona 82 FINAL
Colorado 54
Memphis 57
Tenn Tech 73 FINAL
Morehead State 86
Rutgers 85 FINAL
Purdue 92
Southern Utah 67 FINAL
Northern Colorado 77
Montana State 68 FINAL
Eastern Wash 92
UC Davis 53 2nd Half 5:15
UC Santa Barbara 63
UC Irvine 57 2nd Half 4:46
Cal Poly 46
Cal State Fullerton 55 2nd Half 7:07
CS-Northridge 57
Montana 39 2nd Half 14:13
Idaho 35
BYU 52 2nd Half 11:30
Portland 50
Pacific 45 2nd Half 7:39
Santa Clara 38
Arizona State 9 2nd Half
Utah 41
San Diego 14 1st Half 8:00
Gonzaga 11
St Marys-CA 30 1st Half 7:10
San Francisco 15
Oregon State 13 1st Half 10:20
Stanford 12
Long Beach State 10:59 PM
Rice 68 FINAL
Old Dominion 83
Manhattan 67 FINAL
Monmouth 84
Georgia Southern 39 FINAL
Appalachian St 66
Marshall 74 FINAL
FIU 50
TX-Arlington 62 FINAL
Arkansas State 67
South Alabama 38
Troy 75 FINAL
Texas State 59
Georgia State 39 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 56
William & Mary 84 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 55
Delaware 68 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Maine 61
UMass Lowell 72 FINAL
Vermont 64
Albany 65 FINAL
Hartford 50
Stony Brook 68 FINAL
Binghamton 59
Boston College 60 FINAL
(8) Louisville 77
(23) Syracuse 60 FINAL
Clemson 55
(16) Duke 62 FINAL
Georgia Tech 71
Florida 53 FINAL
Alabama 49
NC State 52 FINAL
(9) Florida State 72
Miami-Florida 59 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
Ole Miss 58
(11) Miss State 50 FINAL
(2) South Carolina 69
Fairfield 74 FINAL
Iona 62
Marist 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 66
Quinnipiac 91 FINAL
Rider 53
Virginia 70 FINAL
(15) North Carolina 72
Pittsburgh 59 FINAL
(4) Notre Dame 87
Ohio State 88 FINAL
Penn State 70
Massachusetts 60 FINAL
Dayton 69
(22) George Washington 81 FINAL
Richmond 69
Saint Louis 53 FINAL
Rhode Island 68
Wright State 74 FINAL
Detroit 59
Green Bay 70 FINAL
Oakland 55
Western Ky 85 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 74
Indiana 72 FINAL
(5) Maryland 83
North Texas 46 FINAL
Charlotte 71
Central Arkansas 64 FINAL
Sam Houston St 56
SE Louisiana 60 FINAL
Northwestern St 71
Nicholls 63 FINAL
New Orleans 68
Incarnate Word 44 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 58
Denver 68 FINAL
No Dakota State 87
IUPU-Ft Wayne 61 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 70
South Dakota 69
Lamar 77 FINAL
McNeese State 98
Western Ill 49 FINAL
South Dakota St 69
Missouri 70 FINAL
(12) Texas A&M 69
(13) Kentucky 56 FINAL
Arkansas 51
(20) Rutgers 60 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 80
Southern Miss 61 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 59
Wisconsin 74 FINAL
(17) Iowa 78
North Dakota 68 FINAL
Northern Ariz 72
Northern Colorado 88 FINAL
Southern Utah 66
Louisiana Tech 0 Postponed
Texas-El Paso 0
Eastern Washington 53 FINAL
Montana State 63
Idaho 68 FINAL
Montana 81
Auburn 70 FINAL
Vanderbilt 58
(6) Tennessee 70 FINAL
Georgia 59
Gonzaga 62 FINAL
San Diego 75
Washington 60
Portland 63 FINAL
BYU 65
(24) California 74 FINAL
Oregon 59
(19) Stanford 69 FINAL
(7) Oregon State 58
Chicago State 49 FINAL
Grand Canyon 73
Utah Valley U 61
San Francisco 65 FINAL
St Marys-CA 62
UCLA 68 2nd Half 5:45
Washington St 67
Santa Clara 58 2nd Half 7:52
Pacific 70
CS-Northridge 54 2nd Half 4:03
Cal State Fullerton 50
UC Santa Barbara 35 2nd Half 5:09
Cal-Irvine 49
Hawaii 36 2nd Half 7:38
Long Beach St 37
Cal Poly 55 2nd Half 7:07
UC Davis 36


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