The University of Minnesota will have a new men’s hockey head coach next season. Don Lucia stepped down Tuesday after 19 years at the helm of the Golden Gophers.
Lucia, 59, who previously coached at Alaska Fairbanks and Colorado College, had one year remaining on a two-year contract, and will served as special assistant to the athletic director in 2018-19, according to published reports.
A 1981 Notre Dame graduate, Lucia went 457-248-73 overall from 1999 to 2018 in the Twin Cities, and is 736-403-102 in 31 seasons as a head coach at the NCAA Division I level. He previously served as an assistant coach at both Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Anchorage before taking the top job at UAF in 1987, and moved on to CC in 1993.
Lucia coached Minnesota to eight regular-season titles, four in the old WCHA and four in the Big Ten. He also guided the Golden Gophers to four conference tournament championships and 13 NCAA Tournament berths, including five Frozen Four appearances. Minnesota won national championships under Lucia's watch in 2002 and 2003, making it the first Division I school to win back-to-back men's NCAA hockey titles since 1971-72, and also advanced to the 2014 national title contest.
The Golden Gophers finished 19-17-2 overall during the 2017-18 season, and were swept in the best-of-three first round of the Big Ten Tournament by Penn State. Minnesota closed the campaign with four consecutive losses to the Nittany Lions, which made a 2-1 win over Ohio State on Feb. 16 the final victory of the Lucia era. He also served as head coach of the 2014 U.S. National Junior Team.
Minnesota will conduct a national search for the successor to Lucia, whose sons Tony (Minnesota 2010) and Mario (Notre Dame 2016) both played Division I college hockey.