Wayzata's Mario Lucia fires a shot as Apple Valley's Anthony Leong defends. Photo by Adam Crane
It’s not unusual for players to feel added pressure when they know they have family attending their games.
That pressure doesn’t seem to have a negative effect on Wayzata’s Mario Lucia, though.
During the Tuesday, Dec. 14 game against Apple Valley, Lucia was playing in front of his father, Don Lucia – current head coach of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers men’s hockey team – as well as his older brother Tony Lucia, former Wayzata Trojan forward and Golden Gopher captain.
Along with a packed Apple Valley Sports Arena, the Lucia family watched Mario score two goals and contribute two assists in the Trojans’ 5-3 victory over the Eagles.
The junior forward seemed to step his game up to a whole new level.
“Yeah especially since my dad and my brother were here,” Mario said. “My brother just came in today from Worcester (where he plays for the San Jose Sharks' AHL team) and it was the first time this year I could play in front of him. I guess I was trying to impress them a little.”
Mario’s second goal came thanks to some traffic in front of the Apple Valley net during the second period. After some pushing, shoving and hacking, the puck slowly slid across the goal line.
Normally, scoring a grinder’s goal is not Mario’s style.
“That was my first goal like that of the season so I just kept hacking away,” Mario said. “My brother told me to stay in those scrums and I got one out of it.”
That goal had to put a smile on Tony Lucia’s face.
Mario has had a successful start to the 2010-2011 season, scoring 18 points (10 goals, 8 assists) in seven games.
It’s hard to say what's more impressive: Mario registering a point during the Trojans’ first four goals of the game against the Eagles or that he has scored 12 points in Wayzata’s last three games - scoring four points each game.
“Well things were clicking with our line again,” Mario said. “Our line usually always plays together and always plays well.”
That line – which features Mario, Tony Cameranesi and Tyler Klein – continues to put up big numbers and is among the state’s best.
Wayzata's Tony Cameranesi. Photo by Adam Crane
Wayzata’s first goal of the game came during the first period and featured that line connecting again.
After making a pretty move around a defender, Mario and Cameranesi found themselves in a 2-on-1 opportunity.
“It was a great 2-on-1 by me and Mario,” Cameranesi said. “He made a nice move and a perfect pass and I just pretty much had to tap it in. It was a great play by Mario.”
With strong games against Maple Grove, Edina and now Apple Valley, the Trojans are hoping to continue their hot start.
“Obviously we try to play the best games we can and that will get us ready for the sections and then hopefully the state tournament,” Mario said. “We can't take a night off with our schedule. We gotta keep going and hopefully keep this winning streak going.”
The official signals a goal for Wayzata's Mario Lucia - hidden behind Apple Valley's Kris Goodman (8) - Lucia's second of the game. Photo by Adam Crane
When talking with Wayzata's Mario Lucia, you couldn't help but notice the stitches in his chin.
"I got checked against Buffalo and got five stitches," Lucia said. "I get them out tomorrow though."
Apparently, the injury didn't bother him during the Dec. 14 game against Apple Valley.
Apple Valley sophomore forward Hudson Fasching (22) tries to skate around Wayzata's Blake Hallenberg (14) and Marc Richards (25). Photo by Adam Crane
Both the Wayzata and Apple Valley head coaches took time to speak with the MN Hockey Hub after the Tuesday, Dec. 14 game at Apple Valley Sports Arena.
Wayzata head coach, Carl Davis, reflects back on both the positives and negatives of the exciting game against Apple Valley.
Wayzata celebrates a third period power-play goal by Marc Richards. Photo by Adam Crane
Question: Your team is off to a great start. What did this game mean?
Answer: This was a big game for us. We knew Apple Valley had a good club and for a while there they had all the momentum. We got a couple quick goals that changed the momentum and I thought after that when we took that 3-2 lead we really settled into our game and started playing well. We did a much better job controlling the puck and eventually got it back to another two goal lead.
Q: What was the message to the team during the second and third intermission after scoring two goals in the last two minutes of the second?
A: Just maintain a sense of urgency and stick with what allows us to be successful and that's controlling the puck. I think we kinda got into a little bit of a game where we turned the puck over and guys were trying to do too much cause it was a tight game at the time. When we were down, I thought there were a few times when we turned the puck over unnecessarily and we just gave them more opportunities. Fortunately, our line of Tony Cameranei, Mario Lucia and Tyler Klein had a big game for us. Even though (Apple Valley) scored in the third, I felt that we kept the momentum after the second.
Q: What are some of the positive takeaways from this game?
A: Well what I really liked was how our kids reacted when we got down. So this was a great game for us, facing a little adversity and seeing how we responded. I really liked how we competed tonight. Obviously with our schedule we're going to have to compete so hard every night. Every team will be playing their best hockey when they play us, there's no doubt about it. I think that's great for our kids to learn how to be composed and play well in those situations. That's why this was just a fun game for us based on the fact that we had to come from behind to get the win.
Q: Those comeback victories really lift a team's spirit, don't they?
A: Absolutely. Obiviously this is another confidence builder for us. To be able to play well against a good team like (Apple Valley) is just going to help us during our games in the near future.
Apple Valley head coach Jerry Hayes was happy with the effort his team showed during the tough 5-3 loss to Wayzata. Hayes says that his team has already improved since the Dec. 2 6-3 loss to Eden Prairie and is confident the Eagles will continue to improve.
Question: Even though the result wasn't what you were hoping for, what were your thoughts on the game?
Answer: I think those are two teams that want to skate. Neither one of us are really the most physically-present teams. They got guys that can fly and we think we got some of those guys too. So I think from a fan's standpoint it was a fun hockey game to watch. Up and down. A lot of very creative offensive players and gifted offensive players on both sides. We're happy with the effort. We saw some holes that we have. I give (Wayzata) all the credit in the world. I love their ability to block a lot of shots. That was one thing we were missing from our game and that was a difference for us, a lot of blocked shots. That, and we hope to get our penalty kill a little better and our special teams still has some work to go.
Q: Well one blocked shot comes to mind when Kris Goodman (of Apple Valley) took a hard slap shot by D.J. Jones (of Wayzata) to the shin pad.
A: I wish we would have had more of those. Unfortunately that was the only one that was memorable because it looked like it hurt a little bit. But we had a lot of guys that didn't get to some other shots. That's one thing we gotta work on. It's a mindset. It's a willingness to do it and then also an intelligence of being in the right spot. I thought tonight we left a lot of shots for them on the net. They had a power-play goal that we felt we could have gotten a body in front of and that's a work in progress and guys' willingness to do that. That's sign of a mature team over there (Wayzata), that they're willing to pay the price and block some shots like that. Their ability to block shots and our inability to block shots was a key part of this game.
Q: It was a crazy second period that saw a quick goal by your team and it seemed like the Eagles had all the momentum until the last two minutes of that period. What happened?
A: We talked all game and pregame about, 'Let's not stick handle the puck too much in the neutral ice. Let's get it in the red. Let's get it in their zone. Let's try to work their (defense) on the defensive end.' We know their defensemen are very skilled offensively but we felt that we might have the advantage with them in the defensive zone. Unfortunately we had a guy trying to dangle too much and he got picked and they came down on the rush and scored. We made a mistake and they capitalized on it.
Q: It's no secret that Wayzata has some skilled forwards. What did you think of the Trojans' offense in this 'Battle of the Four Forwards' (Mario Lucia and Tony Cameranesi of Wayzata and Apple Valley's A.J. Michaelson and Hudson Fasching)?
A: I think the thing (Wayzata does) very well is they're very unselfish.
I think for us, one thing we're still trying to work on is getting confidence in teammates and working with each other. We don't have our two guys (Michaelson and Fasching) necessarily playing together most of the night. So it's a different dynamic for some of our guys to put some trust in different linemates. It's a nice safety blanket for them knowing they have two guys that will for sure be playing DI somewhere and passing the puck back and forth. It's a nice dynamic.
Q: I noticed that Michaelson and Fasching were playing together on a regular line during the third period after playing on separate lines up to that point. When was the decision made to put them out there together?
A: Well I think they certainly have a comfort level and they're very skilled hockey players. When you're trying to catch up, you gotta have some guys that create some offense. I think they're so dynamic, especially together. The reason why they're not playing together (normally) is because we see a lot of teams in our conference and section that are really loaded up with one line of very, very skilled forwards and then their second and third line drops off a little bit. Obviously we're trying to counter that. Maybe take a little hit one our first line but still feel like our first line can compete.
Q: What are some positive takeaways that Apple Valley is going to take away from this game?
A: I like our effort. Our effort is there. We got kids competing. We're learning from our mistakes. We're looking at tape and talking about things during practice and applying it. We're not making the same mistakes that we made earlier this season. One message I had for them (Apple Valley) is we're better than we were against Eden Prairie, another top-notch team we played a week and a half ago. We're better now. At this point it's just about filling holes and finding your weaknesses, and you do that when you play top-caliber teams. We're not making the same mistakes from a week ago so now it's just fixing new patches. Hopefully by January/February we got everything squared away and then we can just go play hockey.
Apple Valley senior goaltender Aaron Gretz makes one of his 29 saves during the Dec. 14 game as Wayzata's Mario Lucia lurks around the net. Photo by Adam Crane
Wayzata's Mario Lucia led the way in the Trojans 5-3 victory over Apple Valley on Tuesday, Dec. 14 at the Apple Valley Sports Arena.
Lucia had a point on Wayzata's first four goals of the game (2 goals, 2 assists). The junior forward assisted on the first goal of the game after creating a 2-on-1 chance for the Trojans and making a perfect pass to Tony Cameranesi who scored.
Lucia then scored two goals late in the second period 47 seconds apart to give his team the 3-2 lead.
Cameranesi provided an assist on Lucia's second goal and finished with two points (1 goal, 1 assist).
Marc Richards and Kage Tiller scored the other two goals for Wayzata, both coming on the power play.
The Trojans' goaltender Andrew McIntyre made 26 for the win.
Tate Erickson led Apple Valley in scoring with two goals. Apple Valley forward and co-captain Kris Goodman - one of three seniors on the squad - had the other goal for the Eagles.
Apple Valley's goaltender Aaron Gretz, Goodman's fellow senior co-captain, made 29 saves for the Eagles.
Wayzata junior forward Mario Lucia. Photo by Adam Crane
1. Mario Lucia, Wayzata
Whenever a player has four points in a game, you can expect him to be named the game's top star. There's no doubt in this case, as Lucia (pictured above) had a point on Wayzata's first four goals of the game - two goals and two assists. The junior forward assisted on the first goal of the game after creating a 2-on-1 chance for the Trojans and making a perfect pass to Tony Cameranesi who scored. Lucia then scored two goals late in the second period 47 seconds apart to give his team the 3-2 lead after being down 2-1. Those goals would provide powerful momentum which carried over into the third period when he assisted on Marc Richards' power-play goal 25 seconds into the third period.
2. Tony Cameranesi, Wayzata
There were several times throughout the game when Cameranesi had the attention of two Apple Valley defenders on him. He still managed to register two points (1 goal, 1 assist). The senior forward and future University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldog put the exclamation point on a 2-on-1 created by Mario Lucia and added an assist on Lucia's second goal.
3. Tate Erickson, Apple Valley
It seemed like the minute you thought the game was out of reach for Apple Valley, Erickson (pictured below) scored a timely goal. Down by one in the first period, Erickson chipped home a tying goal and resparked the fiesty Eagles. In the third, the Apple Valley junior forward would find the net again and buried a loose puck to answer three consecutive goals by Wayzata and pull the Eagles within one.
Apple Valley junior forward Tate Erickson. Photo by Adam Crane