Lucia signs extension through 2014-15

The Gophers men’s hockey coach has led the team to two national championships, but has failed to reach the NCAA Tournament in the past three years.

Hockey vs. North Dakota

Ian Larson, Daily File Photo

Hockey vs. North Dakota

by Andrew Krammer

Gophers menâÄôs hockey coach Don Lucia has agreed to terms on a contract extension through the 2014-15 season, athletic director Joel Maturi announced Wednesday.

The deal will keep Lucia, who led the Gophers to consecutive national championships in 2002 and 2003, at the helm of Minnesota hockey for three more years after this season. Lucia, 53, is currently in his 13th season as the GophersâÄô head coach.

âÄúDon is a championship-caliber coach and is deserving of this extension,âÄù Maturi said in a release Wednesday. âÄúHe has led the University of Minnesota to two national titles and recently battled through a significant illness.âÄù

The teamâÄôs performance has declined with LuciaâÄôs health in recent years; Lucia was diagnosed with sarcoidosis in December 2008 âÄî an inflammatory, autoimmune disease in which cells cluster in organs. In LuciaâÄôs case, he had a mass on his brain that produced severe headaches.

âÄúHe is now totally healthy and fully committed to Minnesota,âÄù Maturi said. âÄúI believe Gopher hockey to be the premier program in the country and Don is the right man to continue to lead our student-athletes.âÄù

Lucia had his first losing season in his Western Collegiate Hockey Association career in 2009-10 when the Gophers went 18-19-2 to finish seventh in the WCHA standings.

âÄúI think probably the media makes more out of it than we do,âÄù Lucia said Wednesday of the teamâÄôs recent struggles. âÄúI knew last spring [the extension] was going to happen. It was just a matter of getting around to having the conversations that take place.âÄù

The menâÄôs hockey team has started this season 4-0-0 and is ranked eighth in the poll.

âÄúWeâÄôre off to a good start now and we want that to continue,âÄù Lucia said. âÄúWeâÄôre not happy with where we have been over the last couple of years.âÄù

Before starting at Minnesota in 1999, Lucia led Colorado College to two straight Frozen Four appearances. He coached CC from 1993 to 1998.­­­­