Former Smokies help Huskies to WCHA title

Former Smokie, Jake Lucchini named to all-rookie team.

Former Trail Smoke Eater Jake Lucchini had a wildly successful week with his NCAA Michigan Tech University Huskies (MTU) hockey team.

The Trail native was named to the NCAA Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) all-rookie team last week. Lucchini had a stellar season, scoring 6 goals and 9 assists for 15 points in 34 games as a freshman with the Huskies.

Then, along with line-mate and another former Smoke Eater, Brent Baltus, the duo helped the 18-7-3 Huskies clinch a share of the WCHA regular season championship. The Huskies finished tied with the 16-5-7 Minnesota State Mavericks, as each team collected 39 points to finish atop the WCHA standings and claim a share of the McNaughton Cup. It is the first regular-season championship for MTU in 40 years.

The Huskies then swept their best-of-three opening round playoff against the University of Alaska Nanooks in the WCHA quarter-final on the weekend. Lucchini netted a goal and an assist in the 7-1 victory on Friday, while Baltus assisted on the tying goal in the 5-3 clincher on Saturday.

“Secondary scoring is huge especially in this league, and for us to contribute on a nightly basis is really big, and going down the road here we’re going to need secondary scoring so hopefully we can just keep it going,” Lucchini told a MTU reporter after the game.

Lucchini played three seasons with the Smoke Eaters, capping off his career with a 35 goal and 83-point year to finish fourth in BCHL scoring and earn a 2015 BCHL MVP nomination. Lucchini finished runner up to eventual 2015 MVP winner, Coquitlam Express’ Corey Mackin. Coincidentally, Mackin, who now plays for Ferris State, was named the WCHA rookie of the year this season.

The number-12 ranked Huskies now face Ferris State in the WCHA semifinal on Friday, while the 15th ranked Minnesota State plays Bowling Green in the other semifinal.

Meanwhile in the ECAC, the number-1 ranked Quinnipiac University Bobcats needed all three games to beat Cornell and advance to the semifinal of the ECAC Tournament. After splitting their opening matches, the Bobcats downed Cornell 6-3 in the deciding game Sunday to advance to the final four of the Whitelaw Cup. Trail minor-hockey products Travis St. Denis, Scott Davidson, and Craig Martin each earned a point in the match with Davidson and St. Denis scoring, while Martin picked up an assist. Quinnipiac faces number-7 seed Dartmouth in the semis, while Harvard plays St. Lawrence in the other semi-final of the ECAC tournament in Lake Placid, NY.

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