Lukan en­joy­ing the ride

The Barrie Examiner - - SPORTS - GENE PEREIRA SPE­CIAL TO THE EX­AM­INER Bar­rie Colts for­ward Zach Mag­wood brings the puck down the ice against the Ot­tawa 67’s at TD Place Arena in this file photo from last sea­son. Last sea­son, the Cam­bridge na­tive had 19 goals and 19 as­sists in 64 games wi

A rookie for­ward who was try­ing to find his way in the On­tario Hockey League with the Bar­rie Colts, Zach Mag­wood didn’t have to look too far for in­spi­ra­tion dur­ing that 2015-16 sea­son.

Every day at prac­tice, every game there was team­mate An­drew Man­gia­pane bring­ing it.

“Hav­ing played with him my first year, it def­i­nitely rubbed off a lot, just his worth ethic and how bad he wanted to make it to the next level,” the Colts vet­eran for­ward re­calls of the Cal­gary Flames prospect.

De­fy­ing the odds had been noth­ing new for Man­gia­pane. First he was passed over in the OHL draft, be­fore mak­ing the Colts as a walk-on.

Then the speedy scorer was passed over in the 2014 NHL Draft, but Man­gia­pane never let it stop him.

The next sea­son he scored 43 goals and put up 104 points, lead­ing to Cal­gary se­lect­ing him in the sixth round of the 2015 NHL Draft.

Like Man­gia­pane, Mag­wood would go un­drafted in his first year of draft el­i­gi­bil­ity last sea­son.

Now the third-year Colt is hop­ing to follow in his for­mer team­mate’s steps.

Mag­wood knows how a big sea­son this is for him.

“Not get­ting drafted didn’t stop (Man­gia­pane) from ac­com­plish­ing what he wanted to ac­com­plish. I def­i­nitely took away a lot from that,” said the 19-year-old, who is off to a solid start with four goals in eight games head­ing into tonight’s con­test against the Erie Ot­ters at the Bar­rie Mol­son Cen­tre.

With two years un­der his belt, it’s easy to see Mag­wood is feel­ing a lot more com­fort­able in the OHL these days.

“Go­ing into your third year, you have a lot more con­fi­dence than your first or even your sec­ond year,” he said. “It’s huge.

“You look at any (vet­eran) player like that, if you have years un­der your belt you’re go­ing to try a bit more stuff, and you’re not go­ing to be as ner­vous to make mis­takes,” added Mag­wood, who had 19 goals and 19 as­sists in 64 games last sea­son.

Com­ing off a re­build­ing year, a young Colts team is look­ing to take that next step in its de­vel­op­ment. To do that, they need re­turn­ing play­ers such as Mag­wood to make the next step in their own de­vel­op­ment. So far, so good for the sniper. “He’s push­ing the pace a lot more and you really see it in prac­tice,” Colts as­sis­tant coach Todd Miller said. “He’s been a guy that has been kind of on the out­side look­ing in with power-play min­utes, where now he’s go­ing to get that time and is de­serv­ing of that time.

“He’s got to take full ad­van­tage of it now. He’s work­ing really hard. You watch him, he can fly,” Miller added. “He’s got great hands and a great shot. It’s just all about him be­ing harder on ev­ery­thing and I think he’s fi­nally re­al­ized that. Some­times it takes a year or two.”

A scorer with strong puck-han­dling skills and an ex­plo­sive shot, be­ing “harder on things” is a ne­ces­sity for Mag­wood, Miller said, es­pe­cially if he wants to take that next step like San Jose Sharks for­ward Kevin La­banc and Man­gia­pane.

Both for­mer Colts for­wards were re­lent­less in their pur­suit of the puck and that’s what Miller has no­ticed more from Mag­wood this sea­son.

“He’s got all the tools,” Miller said of Bar­rie’s sixth-round pick (113th over­all) in the 2014 OHL Pri­or­ity Se­lec­tion. “It’s about be­ing a bit harder on things. We no­ticed it in train­ing camp that (Mag­wood) was fin­ish­ing his checks more and be­ing more of a dog on the bone on the puck, and that’s changed his game a lit­tle bit.

“Where be­fore he would be there, but he was just off by a sec­ond or two. Where he could have had that like a La­banc or Man­gia­pane that stayed on pucks. He’s learn­ing that now and he’s start­ing to get some num­bers show­ing that.”

Mag­wood ad­mits it’s some­thing he set out to do since the open­ing day of camp this sea­son.

“Just com­ing from that sea­son last year, I think the big­gest thing that I like to take away is just be­ing a lit­tle bit more ag­gres­sive and us­ing my speed a lit­tle bit more,” he said of one of his goals com­ing into this year.

See | C2 GENE PERERIA

It has been more than a year since Me­gan Lukan and her Cana­dian women’s na­tional rugby team­mates won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Sum­mer Olympics.

Fin­ish­ing on the podium at the Games was a dream come true for Lukan, but as for tak­ing any time to re­flect on what has been an event­ful year in her life, the for­mer Bar­rie Cen­tral rugby and bas­ket­ball star says she has been too fo­cused on what lies ahead.

“I don’t know if (win­ning an Olympic medal) has sunk in really,” ad­mit­ted the 25-year-old, who was re­cently in­ducted into the Bar­rie Sports Hall of Fame. “For me, I guess I’ve been pur­su­ing rugby for a few years now and it’s kind of on to the next sea­son and what’s up next I think. Maybe when I’m done play­ing it’ll hit me.

“Maybe I’ll rec­og­nize the mag­ni­tude of what we were able to ac­com­plish, but right now I think I’m en­joy­ing the ride,” she added. “It’s been great for me and it’s just a lot of fun to be part of.”

Her au­to­matic in­duc­tion into the lo­cal hall of fame was some­thing she ad­mits caught her by sur­prise.

“I do feel really hon­oured,” said Lukan, who had her par­ents, John Lukan and Mar­garet Mul­der, along with her grand­par­ents and sib­lings in at­ten­dance at the in­duc­tion cer­e­mony. “It def­i­nitely wasn’t some­thing I had my eyes set on, nor some­thing I imag­ined would hap­pen. It’s really neat and I’m very happy and ex­cited.”

Lukan ad­mits she’s a lit­tle taken back re­al­iz­ing her name will be up there among all the great ath­letes who have been hon­oured in the past.

“It sym­bol­izes that it was a dream I had, a dream I pur­sued and a dream I achieved,” said Lukan, who flew in from the na­tional rugby team’s home base in Vic­to­ria, B.C., to take part in the cer­e­mony. “Be­ing able to make the Olympic team and go­ing to com­pete, this just a sym­bol that af­firms that.”

There have been so many peo­ple that Lukan says have helped her on this amazing ride she’s on. Fam­ily and so many coaches and friends among them.

But the tal­ented ath­lete says it’s her mom who has had the big­gest in­flu­ence on her.

“She’s such a pos­i­tive per­son and kind of al­ways knew what to say and when to say it,” Lukan said. “She’s been a big part of my en­tire life, so I think she def­i­nitely in­spired me a lot when I was younger.

“She’s just such a won­der­ful, pos­i­tive per­son and one of the best peo­ple I know,” she added. “To have her in­flu­ence at such a young age, really pushed me, drove me to be my best in ev­ery­thing I pur­sue.”

See | C2

MARK WANZEL/PHOTO

Me­gan Lukan smiles at her fam­ily after be­ing in­ducted into the Bar­rie Sports Hall of Fame dur­ing a re­cent cer­e­mony at the Bar­rie Royal Cana­dian Le­gion Hall.

ASH­LEY FRASER/POST­MEDIA NET­WORK FILE PHOTO

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