The middle of June is pretty barren of prospect news so when there's something to report it's nice to write about anything other than speculation. And for Mario Lucia, there is something to write.
Minnesota's second round pick in 2011 (60th overall) is one of 46 players named today to the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp roster. The camp, which helps the United States decide who to take for the upcoming World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia, runs from August 4-11 in Lake Placid, New York and features practices, scrimmages and international games against teams from Sweden and Finland.
The Wild have had their share of representation on the United States World Junior Championships team recently. Jason Zucker (59th overall in 2010) played the last three years, including a gold medal in 2010 and captained last year's American team that finished a disappointing seventh. Charlie Coyle was also on that team and was one of the top players in 2011. Neither player is eligible this year.
Lucia is coming off a season where he helped lead the Penticton Vees to the top of Canadian Junior A hockey. A Plymouth, Minnesota native, Mario finished the 2011-2012 season with 121 points in both the regular season and playoffs. He was third in the regular season with 94 points and had 27 points in 26 playoff games.
Despite being the son of Minnesota Gophers head coach Don Lucia, the Minnesota prospect will attend the University of Notre Dame this season. In fact, he is working out there this summer.
Along with Lucia, the State of Hockey is represented well with 6 other players (Gophers Mike Reilly, Brady Skjei and Travis Boyd with Logan Nelson of the Victoria Royals, Lucia's Penticton and Notre Dame teammate Steven Fogarty and Andrew Welinski of Minnesota-Duluth) and the coaching staff. Head coach Phil Housley (currently the coach at Stillwater HS) is one of the best hockey players to come out of the Twin Cities and one of his assistants is University of Minnesota assistant Grant Potulny. It's a young team with only three players from last year's team invited to the NJEC but if last year taught a lesson it's that having experience doesn't always matter.
Photo Credit: Fraser Rodgers/Penticton Vees