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Chaz Lucius attends hockey school for the whole family

Chaz Lucius and brother Cruz attend Gentry Academy, run by their parents, and then they’re Golden Gophers.
Kristin Schimek

Kristin Schimek

If you haven’t heard of Gentry Academy yet, don’t worry: the Lucius family is putting it on the radar. The private school just finished its first year as a member of Minnesota’s high-school league with a respectable 14-11-0 record, but it’s Gentry’s under-15 squad that is truly making noise. The biggest reason? Center Chaz Lucius, who tore it up at Tier I showcases to the tune of 39 goals and 62 points in just 13 games, while also becoming one of the youngest players ever to commit to the University of Minnesota. The youngest? His 14-year-old brother, Cruz, who committed at the same time. “We get along really well,” Chaz said. “We’re also linemates. He’s more of a pass-first kind of player, which is why we really work well together.”

Gentry Academy is located in Vadnais Heights, north of St. Paul. It is owned by the Lucius boys’ parents, Chuck and Tami (who also founded the Gradient Financial Group), and has basically grown along with Chaz’s young career. Billy Hengen first coached a nine-year-old Chaz and has been behind the bench with him ever since. Hengen is also the hockey director at Gentry and sees a ton of potential in his star player. “He’s been the most consistent player, physically and mentally, that I’ve been around,” Hengen said. “He’s the same player every day. He has an insatiable appetite to score goals, he’s hungry at all times. But he also distributes the puck and makes his wingers better. It’s not all about him.”

There is also Chaz’s most deadly weapon to consider. “He’s got the release, accuracy and power in his shot – it’s the total package,” Hengen said. “He shoots the puck better than all four of our coaches.”

Which is saying something, since Hengen and co-head coach Joe Jensen played NCAA hockey at St. Cloud State, with Jensen even getting a six-game cup of coffee with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2008.

Though the showcases in the North American Prospects League haven’t been too difficult for Chaz and his team, Gentry isn’t a full-time member of the circuit, and that is by design: they have also played top-flight programs such as Shattuck-St. Mary’s, Chicago Mission and Toronto’s Don Mills Flyers – a team that potentially features the two top picks in this year’s OHL draft, Shane Wright (a 2004 birthday who has applied for exceptional status) and defenseman Brandt Clarke. “Steel sharpens steel,” Hengen said. “We want to play the top teams, and that’s why we stay independent, so we can travel.”

Because of Chaz’s gaudy stats and early NCAA commitment, the spotlight has tended to follow him. That might seem like a lot for a 15-year-old, but he doesn’t find the attention outrageous. “Not really, because it’s what I work hard for,” he said. “I kind of expect it, almost.”

A big fan of Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin, Chaz will move on to junior hockey next season, which could mean a spot with the U.S. National Team Development Program in Michigan. He has already been hitting the gym in order to develop his explosiveness and fast-twitch muscles, but it’s fair to say the foundation for a great future has already been set.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Colby Saganiuk
C, Pittsburgh Penguins Elite U-16
Definitely born at the right time given his diminutive frame. A Johnny Gaudreau type, the 5-foot-6, 150-pounder’s dynamic skill set makes him very buzz-worthy.
SCOUT SAYS: “Prototype dynamic small forward with top-end speed and skills. Has a nose for the net and a strong work ethic. Lock for the NTDP.”

Luke Hughes
D, Little Caesars U-15
The youngest of the Hughes clan, Luke has similar raw skills to his brothers – perhaps even the best of all – though he still needs to iron out his all-around game. Another NTDP lock.
SCOUT SAYS: “Explosive first steps and elite edging, giving him the ability to dodge checks. Not sure he sees the ice as well as Quinn and Jack.”

Owen Power
D, Chicago Steel (USHL)
A big, strapping Canadian kid taking advantage of the USHL’s new import rules, Power is a 6-foot-4, 215-pounder who put up admirable rookie numbers on a very good Steel squad.
SCOUT SAYS: “He looks like your prototypical NHL defenseman. He’s already huge, and he’s really intelligent. Good with the puck, and he can skate.”

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