Lukan enjoying the ride
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.
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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.”
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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.