For four coaches and players, college hockey is a true family affair. This season there are four head coaches who have their sons playing on the collegiate level, but none play for their fathers.
Army head coach Brian Riley’s son Jack plays at conference rival Mercyhurst while Rochester Institute’s head coach Wayne Wilson’s son, Stu, won a national title for Yale last season and is back for his sophomore year. The other two tandems have Air Force head coach Frank Serratore and his son Tom at Minnesota and Golden Gophers head coach Don Lucia and his son Mario, who plays at Notre Dame.
“I just tried to be his dad,” Brian Riley said. “I wanted him to make the final decision. I was there for advice, but wanted him to make his own decision. It was neat to be on the other side of the table for recruiting where I was just able to be the dad.”
For the son, the process is just as interesting.
“It’s definitely different being a coach’s kid,” Mario Lucia said. “Minnesota obviously has such a great tradition, but I really wanted to start my own path. I was looking for a school that had great facilities and where I could get a very good education, so Notre Dame was a perfect fit. It also didn’t hurt that my dad went here.”
What makes things really interesting is when the father and son’s teams meet up on the ice. Coach Lucia’s Minnesota squad is currently the No. 1-ranked team in the nation and it will be back in action Nov. 8-9 in South Bend, Ind., against Mario and his second-ranked Fighting Irish. Last season, the two teams met up in Minneapolis with the Gophers scoring a 4-1 victory.
“After last year’s loss I definitely circled this year’s game on the calendar,” Mario said. “It was still a fun experience to go home and play in a rink I was used to playing in front of a lot of my family and friends. Hopefully this year will be a different result on the ice.”
For Brian Riley, he knows the experience very well after playing against his father, Jack, who was the head coach at Army when he played at Brown.
“I was so excited, almost too excited when I played against my dad’s team,” Brian Riley said. “You want to play well, but you can get so easily distracted, so you really need to try and play like it’s any other game.”
For the younger Riley, it will be hard to keep it as any other game when the two teams meet up on January 3-4 in West Point, N.Y.
“I have thought about it since the day I committed to play for Mercyhurst,” Jack Riley said. “I can imagine it will be overwhelming for a little bit because that is basically my home rink. It is where I grew up playing hockey and all of my family and friends will be there. The strangest part will be of all the games I have ever played there, I have never sat on the visiting bench.”
When the games are over, everyone is back to being father and son.
“Last year we played in the CCHA championship game and my dad was sitting in the stands wearing a Notre Dame jersey and hat,” Mario Lucia said. “It was really an eye opener when I saw him up in the stands. He has always put family in front of his job and this was just one more way he shows me how much he loves me. That is something I will never take for granted.”
Crossing the blue line
• Daniel Carr of Union (N.Y.) leads all active players in games played as he has seen action in 126 games for the Dutchmen. Western Michigan’s Chase Balisy is second with 125, while Wisconsin’s Michael Mersch is third with 124 and Minnesota’s Nate Condon is fourth with 123.
• St. Lawrence’s Greg Carey leads all active scorers with 136 points on 68 goals and 68 assists.
• Following a nine-win season and last-place finish in Hockey East from the 2012-13 campaign, Northeastern has turned some heads with its 5-1 start to the season. The Huskies’ 5-0-0 start marked the first time since the 1988-89 season and just the fourth time in program history. Heading into Hockey East play, Northeastern is tied with Providence as the top-scoring unit in all the land. Northeastern has scored 30 goals, standing as the benchmark in college hockey, and is averaging 5.00 goals per game. Kevin Roy leads the Huskies attack with two points per game, good for second in the nation, on seven goals and five assists.
• Vermont plays host to Notre Dame for a weekend series with Catamounts head coach Kevin Sneddon looking for the 200th victory of his career. Sneddon, who has compiled 198 victories in his career, is in his 11th season at Vermont, while also previously handling the head duties at Union (N.Y.). The sweep would not only provide his 200th win overall, but his 150th as a Catamount.
• Ohio State is celebrating its first 50 years as a program this season. As part of the festivities, an All-Buckeye Team will be selected through a fan vote. One goalie, two defensemen and three forwards will be selected and recognized at the Buckeyes’ home game vs. Penn State on Feb. 1. Voting begins with the goalies, with the ballot for the netminders open now through Nov. 3. The defensemen will be up next, followed by the forwards. To vote, visit: go.osu.edu/Vote4AllBuckeyeTeam.
Minding the net
Heading into the weekend, there are seven remaining unbeaten teams in the nation: Brown (2-0-0), Cornell (2-0-0), Lake Superior State (4-0-0), Minnesota (5-0-1), Providence (4-0-1), St. Cloud State (3-0-1) and Harvard (1-0-1). … Yale will play host to St. Lawrence on Friday night following a pregame ceremony in which it will raise its national championship banner. … Providence opens Hockey East play against Boston University for the third consecutive season. In the past two seasons, Providence is 1-1-0 in Hockey East openers against the Terriers under head coach Nate Leaman. … Boston College is averaging eight goals in its two wins, but only one goal in its two losses. … Since allowing a power-play goal 2:55 into the season opener against Vermont, UND has successfully killed 23 consecutive short-handed situations. … Nebraska Omaha is averaging more goals in its four losses (3.3 gpg) than it is in its two wins (3.0 gpg). … At 6-1-1 for its best start in seven years, Clarkson skated to six NCAA victories in the month of October for the first time. … UMass-Lowell’s Doug Carr is five saves shy of 2,000 for his career. … Big Ten schools have combined to win a total of 15 games so far this season, with 15 different players accounting for game-winning goals. … Canisius has lost its past three games that it has held at least a two-goal lead. … Holy Cross, which is undefeated (9-0-1) all time in Atlantic Hockey openers, will start league play Friday against Sacred Heart.