Prospect Mario Lucia decides to return to Notre Dame, but still set on Wild

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Minnesota Wild prospect Mario Lucia will return to college and finish his college hockey career at Notre Dame.

But that doesn't mean Minnesota's 2011 second round draft pick will end up playing for someone else. Lucia tells the Pioneer Press that despite his desire to return to the Irish for his Senior season, his focus remains solely on playing for the Wild after college is done.

"I don't see it any other way," Lucia tells the newspaper. "This is where I want to play. I kind of put in a lot of work, and the coaching staff has put in a lot of work with me, and I don't want to screw them over when the time comes."

Lucia could decide to test free agency after he is done playing college hockey, but Minnesota will continue to have his rights until next July, so Lucia could choose to join the Wild right at the end of the Notre Dame season.

Lucia, who is the son of Gopher men's hockey coach Don Lucia, said it was a tough decision for him to decide what to do. But in the end, he decided he wanted to finish his college career.

"Ultimately, it's where my heart was at," Lucia told the Pioneer Press. "College is not always there, and the Wild will always be waiting."

The Wild were willing to sign Lucia last March, but he had to decide if he wanted to move on to professional hockey or if he had unfinished business left with the Irish.

"Hopefully help my team win a national championship," Lucia told the Pioneer Press. "I've got goals of hopefully being an All-American next year."

In three seasons with the Irish Lucia has tallied 86 points (49 goals, 37 assists).

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