By Pat Payton
Former NHLer Don Luce has fond memories of playing for St. Marys Lincolns back in the early-to-mid 1960s. The London native was just 14 and 15 when he pulled on a Lincs’ jersey from 1963 to ‘65.
“I remember the experience of coming here (to St. Marys), the people were so great to me,” Luce told the Independent last Friday night. “The guys on the team were just awesome, too. I was so young, but they treated me just like one of the guys.
“The fans can really help a player, and the fans of St. Marys were always great fans and great people. I lived here in St. Marys for a year and a half, and the whole experience was just wonderful.”
After graduating from the Lincs, Luce played three years of Major Jr. ‘A’ hockey with Kitchener Rangers. He was drafted in 1966 by the NHL’s New York Rangers. Altogether, Luce played 13 seasons in the NHL, 10 of them with the Buffalo Sabres (1971 to ‘81). He won the prestigious Bill Masterton Trophy in 1974-75.
Luce, 69, was in St. Marys with his son Scott, who was a member of the 1984-85 Lincolns’ league championship team. A handful of players from that team, coaches Jeff Van Vliet and Scott Graham, and trainer Mike Bannerman were honoured prior to the Lincs-Strathroy Rockets game.
Scott Luce, meanwhile, is the Director of Amateur Scouting with the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights.
–Head coach Scott Thompson gave his Lincolns high marks for effort this past weekend.
As the Lincs fight for a Western Conference playoff spot, the team has been playing most games down the stretch with just 15 or 16 skaters.
“The amount of heart that is in that room right now is the most I’ve seen in a long time,” Thompson said after last Friday’s home game against the Rockets. “We’re going to keep battling away and we just have to find a way to squeak out a couple of more wins.
“They’re all going to be tough games the rest of the way, but the boys still believe they can get a playoff spot.”
–Lincolns have signed a new player for the remainder of the season. He’s Cameron Schram, who played the last two years with Lucan Jr. ‘C’ Irish. Lincs used their last available card to sign the 19-year-old from Grand Bend.
–Lincolns’ defenceman Garrett Nelson is out “two to three weeks” with an upper-body injury. The 17-year-old Nelson was injured during a Feb. 3 home game against Leamington Flyers.
Lincs’ Daniel Aspro is gone for the season with an upper-body injury. The centreman was injured Feb. 8 in Chatham.
–Second place is likely out of the picture for St. Thomas, but Stars’ coach Darren Kelly says the team goal is to finish in the top four in the standings and get home-ice advantage in the first round of playoffs.
After the weekend, St. Thomas sits alone in fourth spot with a 26-14-2-2 record.
–Former Lincolns’ forward Alessio Luciani (2016-17) is producing at better than a point-a-game clip since joining Markham Royals of the OJHL. In 25 games, the 19-year-old Woodbridge native has 12 goals, 14 assists and 26 points.
Luciani started the current season with Whitecourt of the Alberta Provincial Tier II Jr. ‘A’ League. However, when he was traded to another Alberta club, he decided to return to Ontario.
Luciani led Lincs in scoring last season with 58 points (24-34) in 50 games, and was named MVP at the team’s year-end awards banquet.