Luukko shines for Vermont at Wells Fargo Center

This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
West Chester native Nick Luukko was named the MVP of the game by teammates Saturday night. (Candice Monhollan)

West Chester native Nick Luukko was named MVP of the game by teammates Saturday night. (Candice Monhollan)

PHILADELPHIA – It’s one thing being able to play in the building you grew up around, but it’s another to score a goal and help your team win the game there, which is what happened for Nick Luukko.

Philadelphia Flyers fans know the name Luukko – as in Peter Luukko, the president and chief operating officer of Comcast Spectacor, which owns the hometown NHL club.

Nick Luukko just so happens to be his son.

The defenseman was born in West Chester, went to high school at Malvern Prep, and spent his entire life around the hockey atmosphere and the Flyers.

… [Please continue the story on the Daily Local News website by clicking here.]

“The Luukko family is so big and so involved with the Flyers and with Comcast Spectacor here,” said University of Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon.

It was no surprise when the Flyers drafted him in 2010 in the sixth round (179th overall) at the NHL Entry Draft.

Since that time, he has been a part of two development camps with the big club in the summers of 2010 and 2011.

Now, in his junior year of college at Vermont, he was able to return home and play in the Wells Fargo Center, a building he knows very well.

“To be able to come here every day with my dad and hang out in the locker rooms and see different players, it’s helped me a lot to know the ropes,” Luukko said. “It gives me an advantage over some other people.”

Vermont rolled into town to play against Penn State University in a Saturday night game which featured 17,632 fans in attendance.

“To be able to come home and play at the Wells Fargo Center where the Flyers play is always pretty cool,” Luukko said.

But this isn’t the first time he’s played here.

Last season, the same two teams met here as well with Penn State winning 4-2.

This time around, Vermont wasn’t going to let them take the win.

It all started off in Penn State’s favor as they score two goals in the span of 1:21 from red-shirt junior forward Taylor Holstrom and a short-handed one from captain and junior forward Tommy Olczyk, the son of former NHLer Eddie Olczyk.

After that, it was all Vermont.

Junior forward Jake Fallon got the Catamounts on the board with 4:33 left in the first. Then it was hometown Luukko who tied the game 6:46 into the second with a shot from the point which deflected off freshman goaltender Mike Santaguida’s pads and in.

“It was pretty exciting being able to score at home,” Luukko said. “It’s nice to get the goal, but it was big for our team, too. It helped keep momentum and after that, we took control of the game.”

Vermont tallied another 2:59 later thanks to a puck bouncing off the end boards after a dump in that ended up in the crease. Senior forward Matt White was able to poke the puck in before freshman goaltender Eamon McAdam could get his glove on it.

The Catamounts tacked on two more goals in the third courtesy of freshman forward Brendan Bradley while short-handed and freshman defenseman Rob Hamilton on the power play to give Vermont the 5-2 win.

“(Luukko) had a great night tonight,” Sneddon said. “He was our most valuable player. The guys gave him the hard-hat award.

“Not only did he score a big goal, he made some great plays. He played really, really tough, which is something we’ve been talking about with him. He made some great defensive plays for us tonight, especially when we weren’t playing well. He was the one guy back there settling things down.”

It was no surprise to see the crowd upset at the outcome as most of the crowd came decked out in their white and blue to support the Nittany Lions, which was the case last season as well.

“I remember last year in our first game after they announced all the Vermont guys, yelled sucks,” Luukko said. “I never thought at my first game at home I’d be booed.”

Though Vermont was the enemy in front of the mostly Penn State clad crowd, Luukko didn’t have a shortage of his own fans present.

“I’ve got 60 people here,” he said. “I think my mom invited everyone she knows. I’ve got both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – it’s fun.”

The win tonight was even more special for Luukko and the Catamounts because it was their first win of the season, now giving them a 1-1-1 record.

“(The Luukkos are) a great family,” Sneddon said. “For Nick to have an experience like this – he’ll never forget tonight and hopefully we can keep this going.”


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: College Sports, Ice Hockey, Sports

Subscribe & Connect

Subscribe to Candice's RSS feed and connect to her social profiles to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: