Lucia does homework on BC, sees need to be aggressive

Don Lucia says his team has to apply pressure on the Eagles at the Frozen Four.

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Gophers men's hockey coach Don Lucia.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune file

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Gophers coach Don Lucia knows as much about Boston College as anyone can without playing them.

He has watched several BC games on tape. And he has talked with Frank Serratore of Air Force and Scott Sandelin of Minnesota Duluth, the last two coaches who faced the Eagles. The Gophers play Boston College, the top seed in the NCAA tournament, Thursday in the semifinals of the Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla.

Their advice?

"That's a secret," Lucia said. "Neither [of their teams] had much success scoring on them."

The Eagles beat Air Force 2-0 and defending NCAA champion UMD 4-0 to extend their winning streak to 17 games.

"We have to put the pressure on BC," Lucia said. "If we think we are just going to sit back and defend for 60 minutes, we are not going to win that way. We have to score some goals."

That's what the Gophers were able to do in the West Regional, rolling over Boston University 7-3 and North Dakota 5-2. Discounting two empty-netters vs. BU, the Gophers still averaged five goals per game in the regional.

Lucia said Kent Patterson, his starting goalie in every game this season, has to be sharp.

"You get to this time of the year," Lucia said, "Kent has to be our best player this weekend. When we've won it, that's what happened."

Been there, done that

This is Lucia's sixth Frozen Four team. He had two at Colorado College in 1996 and '97 -- the first one was a national runner-up -- and three earlier Frozen Four teams at Minnesota, including back-to-back NCAA champions in 2002 and '03. His Gophers lost to North Dakota in the national semifinals in 2005. His career record in Frozen Four games is 5-3.

"I am enjoying it right now," Lucia said, referring to his latest trip. "This is the most relaxed I have ever been heading to a Frozen Four. We have tried to portray that to our team all season long. We want to make sure that we had a sense of urgency with this group since the year began but, at the same time, we did not want to put undue pressure on them."

That approach worked and is continuing. The Gophers won the MacNaughton Cup, received an at-large NCAA bid, won a regional, and will fly Tuesday to the Frozen Four.

"We want to head to Tampa with a relaxed attitude," Lucia said. "We want to have fun, but we are going there like all four teams, trying to be playing on Saturday night."

One-liners

• Gophers sophomore center Erik Haula on the 10 days off between the regional final and playing Boston College: "It is a long wait after those regional games. It was so much fun you want to keep it rolling."

• Captain Taylor Matson, a senior forward, on his Gophers career ending this week: "I am trying to come to the rink and stay here as long as I can and enjoy the moment with my teammates and the coaching staff and everyone around this program."

Etc.

• Senior forward Nick Larson, who has missed the past three games because of an undisclosed injury, practiced Monday.

• There will be a team sendoff at 2:45 p.m. Tuesday between Mariucci and Ridder arenas.

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