IceDogs finally get Lukey
Dawson Lukey was shocked when he found out he had been selected in the 2021 Ontario Hockey League draft.
The 17-year-old St. Catharines native was passed over in last year’s draft, his dream of playing in the OHL all but forgotten.
Lukey thought he might be selected in the OHL’s U18 draft this week, but then learned he would be ineligible because he played last season at Gilmour Academy, a high school prep institution located near Cleveland.
“I had no intentions or expectations of getting picked at all,” Lukey said.
So when Niagara IceDogs general manager Joey Burke called Saturday, Lukey didn’t give it a second thought.
“I thought he was going to ask how my year went and then he told me he had just drafted me,” the 6-foot, 161-pound forward said. “I was shocked.”
The IceDogs selected Lukey with their final pick of the draft in the 15th round.
“Joey told me he was thinking about it all year and that he regretted not taking me in last year’s draft and it was something that had been on his mind throughout the entire year,” Lukey said. “It was pretty humbling. He said he loved everything about my game.”
Burke said the IceDogs gave serious consideration to selecting Lukey last year.
“Dawson is a guy I was very high on in his minor midget season and to be completely honest, I regretted not being able to draft him last year,” he said. “With that in mind, over the past year I made sure to follow his progress, and as he continued to develop I remained adamant he would be a good fit here.
“I was thrilled to see him still there for us and to be able to finally add him to the IceDogs is something I’ve wanted for two years now and couldn’t be happier with how it has worked out.”
Lukey made the best of the situation and thrived at Gilmour.
“It was an unbelievable experience,” said Lukey, whose father Chris Lukey is the head coach of the Pelham Panthers junior B team. “I couldn’t have made a better decision.”
Lukey played upwards of 70 games and finished in the top 10 in scoring in the USHS (United States High School) U16 division.
“It was instrumental to my development and confidence. It was such a confidence booster for me playing top minutes and being the man on that team. The teachings I got from all my coaches and the skills guys and the trainers, it was incredible.”
Lukey, who said he has been contacted by D1 schools, now has a tough decision to make.
“I’m keeping all my doors and all opportunities open. I’m not closing any doors as of now. When the time comes to make a decision, then I’ll make a decision,” he said.
He is aware if he choses to try and crack the IceDogs lineup and stays in training camp more than 48 hours, he will forgo his NCAA eligibility.
“That’s one of the biggest things I have to think about.”
Lukey, who was a member of the Southern Tier Admirals before heading south, has big plans for the summer.
“I’m training almost every day to continue to advance and enhance my abilities and skills,” he said. “I want to get stronger and hopefully have an even more explosive year next year.”
He realizes the hard work has just begun.
“Obviously, it’s a pat on the back and I felt extremely happy to be recognized but it doesn’t put a stop to that training at all,” he said. “You can’t let up because something like that happens. You have to keep pushing and keep developing.
“I want to be the best player I can be so I continue to work everyday.”
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