Trail Smoke Eater captain Jake Lucchini is in the running for the Vern Dye Memorial Trophy given to the BCHL’s Most Valuable Player.
“It’s cool,” said Lucchini. “I was on the bus . . . and my brother actually looked back at me and told me I was the finalist for MVP and I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it, it’s really cool and I never thought it would actually happen.”
A coaches online poll determined the finalists from each of the three divisions, Lucchini was voted MVP for the Interior division and is up against league-leading scorer Corey Mackin of the Coquitlam Express from the Mainland division and goaltender Guillaume Decelles of the Island division’s Nanaimo Clippers.
“Corey Mackin is the best player in the league and Nanaimo’s goalie is really good, and to be put into a category with them is really something special for me.”
Lucchini had a breakout year in his third year with the Smokies leading the team with 34 goals and 46 assists good for fourth place in league scoring. The Michigan Tech commit has also been a leader on and off the ice, and was awarded the ‘C’ after Trail’s former captain Scott Davidson was traded in January to Chilliwack.
“I never really set any goals for myself, I just wanted to improve from my last season. My first season was tough, and I did a little bit better last year, but to do what I did this year is something I never thought I could do, so I’m really happy.”
The Trail native has scored four-times as many goals as last year, and tripled his assists total. While his production has sky-rocketed, Lucchini is also one of the team’s iron men and has yet to miss a game this season. The skilled player is also a relentless backchecker, fearless in the corners, with a hard, quick shot, yet he readily attributes much of his success to the players around him.
“I played with Charlie Zuccarini who is a really easy player to play with, and when he stopped playing, Dallas Calvin and Craig Martin, I mean they are unbelievable hockey players, so easy to play with, they put you in good situations to succeed.”
Unlike past seasons when there was a winner from each conference for each award, there will be just one winner per award as the league is currently aligned into three divisions.
In 2013, Smoke Eaters forward Brent Baltus won the Interior Conference MVP, and is the only Smoke Eater to receive the award. If successful, Lucchini would join the ranks of local players who won the MVP with other BCHL teams, like Bruno Campese (Penticton Knights 1981), Ray Ferraro (Penticton Knights, 1982), Dallas Drake (Vernon Lakers 1988 ) and Shawn Horcoff (Chilliwack 1996).
The winners will be announced prior to the start of playoffs next week.