Ness departs, but Lucia says he'll stay

The hockey coach admits frustration about the Gophers' season, but he said he's ready to re-evaluate, not walk away.

hide

The New York Islanders announced they had signed Gophers junior defenseman Aaron Ness to a three-year, entry-level NHL contract Wednesday. He will join the Newport Sound Tigers, the Islanders’ AHL affiliate, for the rest of their season.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Wednesday was an odd day in Gopherville.

At Mariucci Arena, men's hockey coach Don Lucia met the media to reassure everyone better days are ahead.

But several hours later, the New York Islanders announced they had signed junior defenseman Aaron Ness to a three-year, entry level NHL contract. He will join the Newport Sound Tigers, the Islanders' AHL affiliate, for the rest of their season.

Ness was one of the Gophers' top four blue -liners this season. His departure, with one season of eligiblility, hurts.

"At 20, [Aaron] has a bright future ahead of him," Lucia said after hearing the Ness news. "We will miss Aaron, but appreciate all he did for Gopher hockey."

Earlier, Lucia dealt primarily with the fortunes of the Gophers, who missed the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive year.

"The frustrating part for me is, we are not that far away," Lucia said. "I really feel that.

"Two years ago, we were probably the first team out of the NCAAs. Last year we weren't good enough. This year we proved we could beat the better teams.

"This year had we won last weekend -- we were a weekend away from being where we wanted to be."

But the Gophers were swept by Alaska Anchorage in a first- round WCHA playoff series at Mariucci. It didn't matter that a lot of other results last weekend were going the Gophers' way. So much so that, by Lucia's calculation, the Gophers with two victories could have had an at-large NCAA bid locked up before the Final Five.

That numbers-crunching tidbit makes the Seawolves' sweep more painful.

But better days are ahead, Lucia said.

"When I leave, I want to leave on top," Lucia said. "I want to leave when the program is in the NCAA tournament every year.

"We understand the expectations here. There are some things we can do to make the program better. I still think we are [on] pretty solid footing. This is an elite place to play and we have to get back to being an elite program."

Lucia plans to be the coach to return the Gophers there and athletic director Joel Maturi wants him back. Lucia, who has one year left on his contract, and Maturi talked about a contract extension at lunch on Monday.

"I will be 53 this summer," Lucia said, "so I think I have a few good years left in me."

As for any upcoming changes, it is too soon to ask.

"The season ended [Saturday]," Lucia said. "We have to evaluate everything that we do on the ice, in the weight room, the way we recruit, who we try to recruit to make this program better.

"But I still love it. My favorite part of this job is still being on the ice with the players."

Ness said he appreciated what the Gophers coaches did for him, but he was ready to take another step.

"My dream is to play in the NHL," Ness said, "and [signing with the Islanders] is my best opportunity to keep progressing."

Ness, a second-round draft pick of the Islanders in 2008, said his three years as a Gopher were great.

"Everything is put on a platter for you to succeed," Ness said. "I would have wanted to do better in the playoffs and go further, but it happens."

And now the former Mr. Hockey at Roseau, instead of going further, is going farther away.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - C. Frias 2:10 PM
Colorado - J. De La Rosa
San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 2:40 PM
Arizona - A. Chafin
Boston - C. Buchholz 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - F. Liriano
Toronto - J. Happ 6:05 PM
Baltimore - B. Norris
Washington - B. Treinen 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Wood
Miami - H. Alvarez 6:10 PM
NY Mets - D. Gee
NY Yankees - B. McCarthy 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - A. Cobb
Cincinnati - D. Corcino 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks
Chicago WSox - C. Sale 7:10 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
Cleveland - C. Carrasco 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Oberholtzer
Detroit - D. Price 7:10 PM
Minnesota - K. Gibson
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 7:15 PM
St. Louis - A. Wainwright
Seattle - J. Paxton 9:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Wilson
Texas - D. Holland 9:05 PM
Oakland - J. Samardzija
Philadelphia - C. Hamels 9:10 PM
San Diego - E. Stults
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close