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

Oakland - LP: D. Otero 8 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Frasor 9
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
NY Islanders 5 FINAL
Boston 3
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Tampa Bay 5 FINAL
Dallas 1
Colorado 0 FINAL
Calgary 2
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
San Jose 1
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
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.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
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 Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close