FRB Top 20 Prospects: #7...Mario Lucia

Mario Lucia, Left Wing
University of Notre Dame (Hockey East)
6'3" 193 Pounds 8/25/1993 Wayzata, MN
Second round (60th overall), 2011 Draft

Mario Lucia has been out of the spotlight, which isn't easy for a player of his stature. The Plymouth, MN native is a hometown forward drafted at the Xcel Energy Center and the son of University of Minnesota head coach Don Lucia. One of those is enough to proudly proclaim a "one of us" banner. Combining all could have Mario be the Minnesota hockey ambassador.

If that's the case, Lucia has gone places representing the "State of Hockey."

Lucia has physically gone from Wayzata HS (MN) to Penticton, BC - where the forward was part of the Vees' record 42 game winning streak and RBC Cup victory - to Ufa, Russia as part of the US gold medal team to South Bend, Indiana over the last 2 years.

In fact he's been everywhere except for Wild prospect development camp; missing the last two.

Underneath those miles, however, is a longer journey. The 20 year-old has succeeded in getting away from the expectations and picking up more development. Despite missing the first month of the season with a broken leg suffered in practice last August, Lucia finished third on the Fighting Irish with 12 goals in 32 games as a freshman. He was the only underclassmen forward in Notre Dame's top-six.

We had the opportunity to watch Lucia last season when Notre Dame came to Mariucci Arena and played the Gophers. Although the Irish struggled against his father's team, who were in the midst of a 10 game winning streak, losing 4-1, Lucia was one of the few Notre Dame players to find success around the Minnesota net. He used to his smarts and 6'3" size well to open up opportunities for his smaller linemates on even-strength.

Just as important, he fights for every inch and isn't afraid to be physical to get to pucks. Lucia's style fits in with the general philosophy of Minnesota second round picks. He can be effective when not in the top-six due to his size and style. That was the case in Ufa as Team USA used Lucia as a 13th forward.

There are still things for Lucia to work on for his sophomore season. He was a long-term prospect when Minnesota traded up to draft him and that hasn't changed. Mario still has room to grow into his frame. His skating can improve, as can his ability to create his own shot.

(Related: Notre Dame plays Minnesota at home November 8-9 and will be featured on NBCSN this year as part of the move to Hockey East.)

For now, Lucia has come a long on his journey and has plenty of room to grow at Notre Dame before coming back home.

Photo Credit: Third String Goalie

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