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Chat Live With Minnesota Head Coach Don Lucia

Welcome to the CollegeSports.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, March 29 at 11:00 a.m. EST, University of Minnesota Head Coach Don Lucia visits the Tuesday @ The Rink" chat room. The Gophers joined an all-WCHA Frozen Four by defeating Cornell to win the West Regional.

On April 9, 1999, the University of Minnesota tabbed Don Lucia as the 13th head coach in Golden Gopher Hockey history. Nearly four years to the day later, Lucia led Minnesota to its second straight NCAA Championship in Buffalo, N.Y., with a 5-1 win vs. New Hampshire. Entering his 18th season as a head coach, Lucia has established himself as one of the nation's premier collegiate coaches.

Lucia, 46, has guided the Golden Gophers to a stellar 134-62-20 (.667) mark during his five seasons. In 17 seasons overall as a head coach, Lucia has compiled a 413-217-49 (.644) record. That mark places Lucia fourth in career winning percentage and sixth in career victories among active NCAA Division I coaches.

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Joining the legendary Herb Brooks, Lucia became the only other head coach in Golden Gopher history to lead his team to more wins in each of his first three seasons. His third campaign saw the team win its first NCAA Championship in 23 years with a 4-3 overtime win vs. Maine at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. That team posted an impressive 32-8-4 record. In 2002-03, the Golden Gophers took home their fifth national title, and Lucia became one of just four coaches in NCAA history to lead his team to back-to-back national titles.

Prior to his arrival at Minnesota, Lucia led his previous employer, Colorado College, to an overall record of 166-68-18 (.694) in six seasons in Colorado Springs, Colo. and three straight outright regular-season league titles in his first three years behind the bench. He was honored at the conclusion of the 1993-94 season with the Spencer Penrose Award as National Coach of the Year. He is one of just six coaches in NCAA history to lead two different schools to the Frozen Four.

While Lucia won't be stopping by until 11:00 a.m. EST on Tuesday, March 29, his time will be tight, so feel free to submit your questions now and we'll save them for his arrival!

CollegeSports.com Moderator: Hello hockey fans and welcome to a very special edition of Tuesday @ the Rink. It is tripleheader action today as we get ready for the Frozen Four. And just like the all-WCHA Frozen Four, we are all-WCHA today. Our first guest is Minnesota Head Coach Don Lucia.
Coach Lucia: Hi, everyone. I'm happy to be here to answer your questions.
CollegeSports.com Moderator: Just so everyone knows, we have a lot of great questions for Coach. We will do our best to answer as many of them as possible.

Bryan (Minneapolis): Will Tyler Hirsch play in the Frozen Four? Do you think the incident has been a distraction for the team? Wishing the Gophers and Tyler the best.
Coach Lucia: I think right now there is a good chance Tyler will play in the Frozen Four. We have closely monitored his situation over the last week and will continue to do that. He is getting better every day. Coming back to practice last week was great for Tyler and great for our team. We will continue to give him support with the hope that he will be in our lineup for the Frozen Four, but that will probably not be decided until late this week or this upcoming weekend.

Sarah (Saint Paul): Will Alex Goligoski be playing in the Frozen Four?
Coach Lucia: It is too early to tell. He will resume practice later this week, but we will probably not make a determination on his status until gameday.

Trent (Hudson): Hi Don, Congratulations on a great regional. What is the story with that black MN gopher tie? Will you be wearing it on April 7th and 9th?
Coach Lucia: It brought us real good luck in the past. It is in the back of my mind, but I haven't decided yet. We won two big games with the suits and ties I wore this weekend, so we might stick with those. The black tie might have to be retired - I think winning the National Championships had more to do with the quality of the players than the tie.

Sarah (Saint Paul): Do you think that the age of your team will be a factor in the Frozen Four? Are the young guys prepared for it?
Coach Lucia: I think our guys are used to playing in big games in large venues, such as Mariucci this past weekend and in other WCHA contests and in Xcel this season. So I don't think they are going to see much more pressure than they have seen recently. We have juniors and seniors that have played in National Championship games, so they will be able to guide the young guys in what to expect at the Frozen Four.

Patrick (SWChicagoland): How much emphasis (or extra emphasis) are you going to place on the Power Play during the next two weeks during practice? How much does the 0 for 15 in the PP concern the coaching staff/players?
Coach Lucia: I think during the course of the season, your power play is going to go through stretches where it is going to click real well and times where it is going to struggle. Last weekend had as much to do with playing Maine and Cornell, who had the top two penalty killing units in the nation, as well as great goaltenders, but it is obviously an area which we have to have success on next week if we want to win. This time of year, you are not going to go three for six because of the quality of team you are playing against, but it is important to get the one goal per game on the power play.

John (St. Paul): How much do you think that playing in Marriucci this past weekend contributed to your success?
Coach Lucia: At the end of the year, the teams that are playing the best usually advance, no matter what the venue. Colorado College beat Michigan in Michigan. North Dakota went to Worcester and beat BU and BC and Denver beat UNH in their backyard. At the same time, the biggest advantage Mariucci gave us was playing on the big rink and, with a young team, gave us a home crowd advantage. To our team's credit, we took advantage of the opportunity that presented itself to play a regional in our home rink.

steve (minneapolis): For the Frozen Four, you guys will be playing on a smaller rink. How are you going to prepare for that, who has the advantage with the smaller rink?
Coach Lucia: We will be practicing at Ridder Arena, which is our women's rink, is attached to Mariucci and is 200 by 85. This year's team has played very well on the small rinks over the course of the season. The opportunity to pracrtice over the next week and a half will really prepare us for the game against North Dakota.

Jose (Owatonna): You seem to recruit more and more from the USA program rather than juniors or high school. What do you see in the USA players that give them an advantage?
Coach Lucia: We are trying to recruit the best players that will fit our style of play, regardless of where they are playing. Obviously our recruitment is going to be heavy with Minnesota players and some of the top Minnesota players have recently opted to go play in Ann Arbor. We would have recruited those players had they played in Ann Arbor, played in the USHL or played high school hockey.

louis waterford: coach , i have been watching cornell it seems like forever , and i have never seem them pinned down like that in their zone , what do you think the biggest factor was in your teams ablity to pinned them down
Coach Lucia: I think we had a lot of energy for the game on Sunday. The advantage we had is that we were the quicker team, their advantage was in the size department. I think it became more of a battle of which style could take over the game. For the first 50 minutes, we could play our style, which is spread the rink and control the puck. The last ten minutes, they dictated the style, which is puck protection and play along the boards. You have to recruit the player that is going to best fit your style of your play. Playing on an Olympic sized rink was an advantage to us over Cornell.

Debbie (Brooklyn Center): Congratulations, Coach. Do you think the familiarity of the 4 WCHA teams will make the Frozen Four seem more like the regular season? It seems they wouldn't need much time to "feel each other out" and could simply execute their game plans. Go get 'em!
Coach Lucia: That is a great question. For the people on the East Coast, it is like BU and BC playing each other, along with UNH and Maine. You have all four teams where the matchups are big rivalries and teams that are very familiar with each other and their styles of play. The question will become, do you forget your venue and that it is the Frozen Four or are you playing your rival like you would at any point of the season. We all know each other so well that it becomes who is going to execute their systems and not make a mistake.

Craig Lewandowski Rosemount, MN: Hi Don, Can you tell us what your biggest concern is in playing North Dakota in two weeks. They are vastly improved. What will Minnesota have to do well to beat them in the frozen four.
Coach Lucia: You could tell during the WCHA Final Five how well North Dakota was playing. I was not surprised at all that they beat BU and BC this past weekend. The difference for them now is that they are getting great goaltending and scoring. Six weeks ago, they were having trouble scoring. They've got a veteran team that is physically very big and strong. We are going to have to make sure we keep coming at them and, this time of year, you have to have great goaltending and try to limit your mistakes.
CollegeSports.com Moderator: That is all the time we have with Coach Lucia. Thank you all for the questions.
Coach Lucia: I really enjoyed chatting. Thank you all for your support.
CollegeSports.com Moderator: Join us at 1:00 Eastern for the next part of today's tripleheader, when we are joined by Colorado College Head Coach Scott Owens. And at 2:00 Eastern, it will be WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLeod.
CollegeSports.com Moderator: And while we are taling future chats, mark your calendars for these two: Next Tuesday, April 5 and 1:00 we'll be joined by BU Coach Jack Parker. And on Saturday night, April 9, it will be a special Championship Chat with UMass-Lowell Head Coach Blaise MacDonald and CSTV's Dave Starman, who will take your questions during the Championship Game.
CollegeSports.com Moderator: See you at 1:00 Eastern.

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