The Windsor Spitfires made tournament history doing the unthinkable: they earned a place in the Memorial Cup tournament because they were the host, not because of their league playoff performance. Against the odds, the team overcame a formidable opponent in the Erie Otters, who had set a Canadian Hockey League record having more than 50 wins in a season for the 4th year in a row. They had also beaten the Spitfires in three of their four games during the season.
This series began differently, though, as Erie was unable to defeat the Spitfires during the round-robin portion of the tournament, and faced the host team again in the finals. In a heated battle five minutes into the third period with a 3-3 tie, Luchuk picked up the puck and scored the winning goal.
While many were surprised by the win, the team took it in stride. According to Aaron’s father Greg, the players knew they had it in them and the extended rest between the end of their playoff series and the Memorial Cup allowed them to return to series with a full roster, something that had eluded them for most of the season. The result was a tournament where they remained undefeated.
Watching from the stands, Aaron’s parents Greg and Louise Luchuk were delighted. They grew up in Millbrook, attending Millbrook South Cavan Public School and Millbrook High School and moved to Kingston after completing university at Trent and moved to Kingston where they raised their family. During visits to his grandfather George who remains in town, Aaron has been known to lace up his skates at Millbrook arena with the Puck and Stick guys.
Luchuk explains that the coaching philosophy and the string of injuries made the team stronger. Third and fourth string players were given the opportunity to take the ice during critical times like penalty kills instead of leaving these key moments to the stars of the team. This practise paid off handsomely, allowing all players including fourth year veteran Luchuk, to make important contributions throughout the season and preparing them for the pressure of a final cup game. Plans for next year remain up in the air. He is eligible for another year as an over age player in the OHL, and has begun some on-line post-secondary studies in sports management, but for now he can enjoy the moment and consider his options, which have probably just expanded. KG