MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Don Lucia is no longer the head hockey coach at the University of Minnesota.
The University announced Tuesday that Lucia is stepping down as head coach after 19 seasons. He is informing his players at a Tuesday afternoon meeting. Lucia and the Gophers finished this season 19-17-2 and missed the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years.
The season ended with the Gophers being swept at Penn State in their final regular season series. They needed just one point out of the weekend to earn home ice in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. They went back to Penn State the next weekend and were swept again, ending their season. After a series of upsets last weekend in various conference tournaments, the Gophers were not selected for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Despite having success playing in the Big Ten, the Gophers have struggled with fan attendance in recent years. Lucia has also been unable to keep many of the top hockey players in the Twin Cities from playing at other colleges.
Lucia just finished his 19th season at Minnesota and had one year remaining on his current contract. Lucia compiled a 457-248-73 record, including national titles in 2002 and 2003. His Gophers teams also won eight regular season conference titles and four playoff titles. He led the Gophers to five Frozen Four appearances.
Lucia will remain with Gopher Athletics as a special assistant to Athletic Director Mark Coyle through June 30, 2019.
“Gopher Hockey is not just a college hockey program, it’s a cultural institution in the state of Minnesota, built on more than 90 years of success and tradition. Few have contributed as much to that legacy as Don,” said Coyle. “He knows how much I appreciate everything he has accomplished in his 19 years as head coach, but he and I also agree that it’s time for someone else to lead our program. From his program’s commitment to academic excellence to the banners his teams raised into in our rafters, I can’t thank him enough for what he’s contributed to the success of Gopher Hockey.”