Trail Smoke Eaters defenceman Jeremy Lucchini has seen it all in his time with the Trail Smoke Eaters and earlier this month the four-year veteran capped off his best season in orange and black with a commitment to York University for the 2018-2019 season.
“It’s going to be a big change, but I just can’t wait to get started,” Lucchini told the Times on Tuesday. “To be able to go further my education and lucky enough to go to a great school with York, I’m just really excited.”
After one season with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks as a 16-year-old, Lucchini cracked the Smoke Eaters line up, joining his brother Jake in September 2014. Since then, the Smoke Eaters record improved every year going from a 19-win season in his first year to 32 victories in 2018.
“I think I can honestly say I left it in a better place, and I’m pretty happy about that,” said Lucchini. “There was a few scary moments, not knowing whether I was going to stick around, but when Rich and Annie Murphy coming in and doing what they did and the town recognizing it and giving their full-on support from then on in, it’s been unbelievable.”
Lucchini is ninth on the Smoke Eaters’ ‘All-time’ list of most games played, skating in 175 matches. His totals would have topped the 200 mark if not for a knee injury in 2017 that limited him to just 22 games that season.
The following year, his final campaign, the 20-year-old bounced back with his most impressive season on record, scoring five goals and 40 points in 58 games to lead all Trail defencemen, and finish seventh among BCHL defenders.
“The coaching staff, they gave me basically unlimited mistakes, and said, ‘It’s going to take time.’ And it did for a bit, but without their support I wouldn’t be here so I’m really thankful for that.”
Over Lucchini’s BCHL career he accumulated 75 regular season points and added another 17 points over the past two playoffs, but more important, the Trail native was a tireless contributor off the ice as well.
“The Trail Smoke Eaters organization is proud to see Jeremy commit to York University,” Craig Clare, Smoke Eaters Director of Hockey and Business Operations, said in a release. “Jeremy has been such an integral part of the Smoke Eaters success on the ice and in the community, developing over the past four years.
“His progress and hard work helped this team get to where it is today and is a testament to Jeremy’s work ethic and character. We look forward to following Jeremy as a student athlete.”
The York University Lions compete in the 20-team Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Conference, which competes for the historic Queen’s Cup each spring. The Lions are coming off a season in which they collected 22 wins to go against their 15 losses and are the 2016-2017 OUA Champions. In 2018, the Lions had a solid playoff run, reaching the Ontario University Athletics semi-finals before losing out to the Brock Badgers in three games.
Lucchini looks forward to joining the Lions in September, but is grateful for his time as a Smoke Eater.
“I would like to thank Rich and Annie Murphy as well as the entire Trail Smoke Eaters front office,” Lucchini said in the Smoke Eaters press release. “I would also like to thank my coaches over my four years: Barry Zanier, Curtis Toneff, Jessie Leung and Cam Keith for the time and effort they put in with me.
“Lastly, I would like to thank the community of Trail, who represent the best fans in the BCHL. It was an honour to play for my home town.”
Lucchini will pursue a Bachelors degree in Education while playing for the Lions.