Sniper does his talking on scoresheet

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:06 AM ET

When it comes to Shane Luke, the apple didn't fall far from the tree.

It rolled for a while, however, before coming to a complete stop.

Hockey has always played a big role on the Luke family farm near Ste. Rose du Lac. Shane's dad, Kevin, was one tough hombre when he played competitively, moving out of the province to ply his trade with the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's Humboldt Broncos when he was a teenager in the mid-1980s.

Fisticuffs and hard hits were the currency in which he dealt. If debts had to be paid, Kevin was often the collector.

"He definitely fought a lot," Shane said. "That's what I heard."

When Shane entered the world in 1990, it didn't take long for Kevin to put skates on the young lad. Shane was four when he played his first hockey game.

Fast forward 15 years, and Luke, like his dad, has also reached the junior A hockey ranks.

This time, however, it's a little closer to the family farm, as Luke plays left wing for the nearby Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

Tops in scoring

He doesn't lead the loop in penalty minutes, though.

No, Luke is tops in scoring.

"It's good," the 19-year-old said. "You always want to stay there. You always want to play well. It's nice, but it's not everything. The wins are more important than the points."

The Kings, slotted fourth in the most recent Canadian Junior A Hockey League ranking, have been doing plenty of winning this season thanks to Luke and his two linemates, centre Bryce Lamb of Killarney and right-winger Ryan Dreger of Dauphin.

The trio had combined for 168 points going into Dauphin's home game against the Portage Terriers last night. Luke led the way with 18 goals and 40 assists for 58 points in 32 games, and the Kings had an impressive 27-4-1-0 record.

This is a huge year for the Kings, who will host -- and participate in -- the RBC Cup national junior A hockey championship in May. They have already proven that they belong in that tournament, and quiet leader Luke is a big reason why.

"He's a guy who doesn't say boo," Kings head coach and GM Marlin Murray said. "He's a perfect teammate. He comes to the rink every day with a smile on his face and works his butt off.

"He's the first one on the ice, last one off the ice type of player. And as far as off the ice, you couldn't ask for a better kid."

Luke's path to the top of the MJHL scoring list was a fairly straight line. He played his minor hockey in Ste. Rose du Lac, coached by his dad the whole way, and then suited up for the Parkland Rangers of the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League.

The Kings put him on their protected list, and he is now a prolific point-getter in his third year with the club.

"He was a good player at 14 and 15, but he made some big strides as a 17-year-old playing in the (MJHL)," Murray said.

Exceptional

Luke credited talented linemates from years past (Bryan Kauk and Luke Stokotelny, to name a couple) for helping him elevate his game.

And it's not just his offence that is topnotch, according to his coach.

"His defensive play and awareness is exceptional as well," Murray said. "... He's the type of guy that if we're up a goal with a minute left or if we're down a goal with a minute left, he'll be on the ice for both scenarios."

Luke's immediate goal is to lead the Kings to their first Turnbull Trophy since 1993 and then capture a national championship on home ice. (His dad made it to the 1987 national final with Humboldt but lost to B.C.'s Richmond Sockeyes.)

Eventually, Luke's mission is to land a hockey scholarship to an American university.

"He's starting to get some interest now, obviously, by leading the league in scoring and having a plus-minus of over 30," Murray said. "I expect the calls to keep coming. He's a tremendous person."

The one thing scouts won't see Luke doing, however, is dropping the mitts like his dad.

He has fought exactly twice in his MJHL career.

"I fought when I was 17, and then I fought in the pre-season last year," he said. "My first one I did OK. On my second one I just tried to get him to the ground. He was pretty big. I didn't really want to go with him.

"That's when I decided that I'm not going to do this anymore. I'm going to let some of the other guys do it."

Even though he didn't get the scrapping gene from his dad, Luke credits his pops for teaching him all the other tricks of the hockey trade.

"When I was younger he always had me out there, and always after practices he'd have me working on little things that help you," Luke said. "He was very helpful with that stuff."

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SHANE LUKE

- Sport: hockey

- Team: Dauphin Kings

- Year: third

- Position: left wing

- Age: 19

- Height: 5-foot-11

- Weight: 165

- Shoots: left

- Sports Idol: Joe Sakic

- Fun Fact: It would be fair to call Luke a Manitoba farm boy. He drove his first combine when he was "13 or 14" and spent last summer working full-time on the family farm. "I've got a good idea how it runs," he said.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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