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Top college hockey prospect picks Irish … over his dad

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

At some point in recent weeks, Minnesota Wild draftee and top college hockey prospect Mario Lucia and his father must have had a very difficult phone conversation. Lucia, who is playing in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) during the 2011-12 school year before heading to college, had to tell his father that he wanted to play for Notre Dame, a decision that meant he wouldn't be heading back to the Twin Cities after his time in Canada ends.

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Minnesota Wild draftee Mario Lucia

Minnesota Wild draftee Mario Lucia

For any parent, that might be a tough blow to take. For Don Lucia, Mario Lucia's father, it was much rougher, because the elder Lucia is the head coach of the University of Minnesota Gophers, another of the top hockey programs that was recruiting Mario Lucia.

That's right: The son of the head coach of one of college hockey's most storied programs spurned his father's advances to sign with a significant national rival. That should make Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner awfully interesting whenever Mario Lucia comes back home.

When contacted for comment on his decision, the younger Lucia opened up to the Minneapolis Star Tribune about why he picked the Irish.

"[Going to Notre Dame is a] chance for me to get out from my dad's shadow and start my own path. I just feel it's best for me to establish myself without any concern about who my dad is."

Mario Lucia continued: "I'm obviously excited to be heading to such a successful program. They're ranked No. 1 in [the] preseason and now have a new rink and national TV deal. All those things hopefully will create some excite[ment] for the hockey program."

The skating Irish may give Lucia a chance to add some distance between himself and his father, but not necessarily his dad's legacy. The elder Lucia also attended and competed for Notre Dame, graduating as one of the stars of the Irish's hockey class of 1981.

Now his son will follow in his footsteps, even if Don Lucia himself will be one of the people most set back by that decision.

"Notre Dame is very fortunate to have landed a quality individual in Mario," Mario Lucia's BCHL coach Fred Harbinson said in a media statement. "He is a gifted player that has not only size, but speed and skill."

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