A tale of two coaches

Berry vs. Lucia

Madison Overby, Staff Writer

At first glance, the head coach of the University of North Dakota men’s hockey team, Brad Berry, and the head coach of the University of Minnesota men’s hockey team, Don Lucia, may seem to have a lot in common.

Both men are currently coaching two of the most storied men’s hockey programs in the nation. They both played defense for Division I hockey teams while they were in school during the early to mid-‘80s, Berry at UND and Lucia at Notre Dame. They were both drafted into the NHL following their collegiate careers, Berry to the Winnipeg Jets and Lucia to the Philadelphia Flyers.

The similarities end there.

Following the draft in 1983, Berry played for the Winnipeg Jets from 1985-90, the Minnesota North Stars from 1991-93 and the Dallas Stars from 1993-94. During his time in the NHL he played in 241 games over eight years. He then scouted for the Dallas Stars for a year in 1999 and returned to Grand Forks in 2000 to become the assistant coach.

Berry bounced around to different assistant coaching jobs over the years for UND, the Manitoba Moose (American Hockey League) Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL) before coming back to coach under previous UND head coach Dave Hakstol from 2012-2015. When Hakstol left to coach for the Philadelphia Flyers in 2015, Berry took over.

Following the draft in 1981, Lucia was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers. However, Lucia was forced to look at his chances of making it successfully in the NHL and instead took his old Notre Dame assistant coach, Ric Schafer, up on an offer to help coach the Alaska-Fairbanks program. When Lucia first began coaching in Alaska, he was being paid as a graduate assistant/assistant rink manager at $3,000.

Lucia was in Alaska for 12 years before moving on to a coaching job at Colorado College where he and his team won the league three years in a row. In 1999, Lucia began coaching in Minnesota.

Both Lucia and Berry have found a lot of success in their current roles as head coach.

Berry became the first person in the history of NCAA Division I men’s hockey to win a national title in his first year as head coach. Since becoming head coach in 2015, UND has led the nation in points and points per game by defensemen.

In addition to that, Berry has turned out 12 players to the NHL in only two years, six of whom have already made appearances on the ice.

Lucia has been in the role of head coach at Minnesota for the past 18 years. He coached the Minnesota Gophers to back-to-back NCAA championships in 2001-02 and 2002-03.

He is one of five coaches in NCAA history to lead his team to back-to-back NCAA titles. Over his 18 years Lucia has coached 82 players that were drafted to the NHL, including 15 first-round draft selections.

It’s easy to see that both men have coached talented teams and developed great hockey players and that does not go unnoticed in the world of college hockey. Berry was named USCHO (United States College Hockey Online) Coach of the Year and NCHC (National Collegiate Hockey Conference) Herb Brooks Coach of the Year in 2015-16. Lucia is a four-time conference coach of the year, three times in the NCHC and once in the Big Ten conference.

October 20 will mark the third time Berry has taken on Lucia and the Gophers since he became head coach. Berry’s current record against the Gophers is 0-1-1, but the team is looking to chalk up a couple wins in the home series this weekend.

Madison Overby is a staff writer for Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]