Three weeks ago, Gophers senior forward Tom Serratore reunited with his family when the Gophers played at Bemidji State.
This weekend, head coach Don Lucia will partake in a family reunion of his own, but this trip isn’t all for pleasure.
“It’s a business trip,” he said of playing his son, Notre Dame sophomore forward Mario Lucia, this weekend.
Both met as opponents last season when the Gophers beat Notre Dame 4-1 at Mariucci Arena in January.
This weekend, Don Lucia will return to his alma mater on the visiting bench.
This won’t be the first time the two have seen each other this season. In fact, the head coach has watched his son play in each of the past three weeks.
Lucia flew out to see his son play a Sunday game against Michigan Tech after the Gophers finished a Saturday game at Bemidji State. A week later, Notre Dame traveled to Minnesota-Duluth the same weekend the Gophers hosted Boston College. And last weekend on a bye week, Lucia flew to Vermont to again see his son play.
Mario Lucia doesn’t get to see his father much, and he said it was nice to have him in the stands.
“It’s been really nice just being able to have him as my father around,” Mario Lucia said. “Last year, I think he only got a chance to see me play three or four times. And this year, he’s already surpassed that, and we’re only like four weeks into the season.”
The Lucias aren’t the only Notre Dame-Gophers tie.
Senior forward Nate Condon’s older brother used to play for the Fighting Irish as well, and his whole family will be at the game. Condon said the family ties won’t really affect the game.
“It might be a funny thing when coach says ‘Lucia’ on the lineup,” Condon said, “but other than that, it’s not something that’s really discussed.”
Sophomore defenseman Mike Reilly also has a connection to Mario Lucia.
The two were roommates when they played with the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League in 2011-12.
“Mikey, he’s one of my best friends,” Mario Lucia said. “He’s one of the best defensemen I’ve ever played with.”
Reilly was just as complimentary of his friend’s playing skills.
“He’s big, and he’s got a great shot and a quick release,” Reilly said. “And he’s really good on the power play.”
Reilly said his former roommate’s close associations with Minnesota won’t make him go any easier on him.
“We’re going to do everything we can to stop him,” Reilly said.
While Mario Lucia didn’t choose to play for his father like his older brother Tony did, Don Lucia said he’s happy with how everything panned out.
“Part of me wishes he was here and I had a chance to coach him,” he said. “But the other side is there’s contentment knowing that I get to be his dad in this situation.”