Jan. 5, 2013
Ufa, Russia -
The United States Junior National Team defeated Sweden's Junior National Team, 3-1, on Saturday morning (Jan. 5) in the championship game of the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championships to win the gold medal for the third time since the championships started in 1977.
Notre Dame freshman left wing Mario Lucia (Plymouth, Minn.) dressed for all seven games of the tournament, picking up one assist for one point, to become the second Irish player to earn the gold medal and the fifth Notre Dame player to win a medal in the prestigious tournament that features the top Under-20 years old hockey players in the world. He joins Kyle Palmieri, who won the gold with the 2010 team, as gold medal winners and Palmieri (bronze in 2011), Kyle Lawson `10 (bronze in 2007) and Ben Simon `00 (silver in 1997) as medal winners.
Lucia is the 16th Notre Dame player to play in the World Junior Championships and is the third member of the current Irish team to have played in the tournament. He joins junior teammates Stephen Johns (Wampum, Pa.) and T.J. Tynan (Orland Park, Ill.) who were members of the 2012 team that finished seventh in Calgary, Alta.
The road to the gold medal started on Dec. 27, 2012 when the United States team defeated Germany, 8-0 in the opening game of the tournament with Lucia getting one shot on goal. The U.S. then lost two straight games, falling to Russia (2-1) on Dec. 28 and Canada (2-1) on Dec. 30 with the 6-3, 193-pound forward getting just one shot in the game versus the Canadians. The U.S. then earned its way into the quarterfinals with a 9-3 win over Slovakia on Dec. 31 as Lucia picked up his lone point with an assist on a third-period goal by center Vince Trocheck.
In the quarterfinals, Team USA advanced to the medal round with a 7-0 win over the Czech Republic on Jan. 2. In the semifinals, the United States upset Canada, 5-1, on Jan. 3 to advance to the championship game against Sweden that they won on Saturday by a 3-1 final score. Goaltender John Gibson was named the tournament's top goaltender and defenseman Jacob Trouba was the top defenseman.
Lucia was one of four CCHA players on the United States' roster as he was joined by Trouba (Michigan) and forwards Riley Barber and Sean Kuraly of Miami.
The freshman forward will rejoin his Notre Dame teammates on Monday, Jan. 7 in Minneapolis, Minn., as they prepare to return to action at 7:07 p.m.. (CT) on Tuesday, Jan. 8 versus the top-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers at Mariucci Arena.