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06-26-2010, 03:10 PM
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A Fistful of Dollars
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THEY WERE BOMBARDED with expectorate from all directions and loved every second of it.

Hockey tournaments have taken Peter and Nick Luukko all over the world, but this particular trip to Russia will have them laughing for years.

The food was bad. Their hotel shower was always cold. The tap water wasn't exactly meant for drinking. Decked out in a vintage Olympic-style jersey, Nick felt like he was actually in "Miracle." His amateur team, which Peter helped coach, was composed of players from across the United States. As they walked onto the ice to play Russia's "Red Army" team in the finals, Russian fans spit on Nick Luukko and his teammates. Threw debris at them. Flipped them off.

"It was probably the best experience of my life," Nick said. "I really felt like I was in the movie. It was you against everyone else."

Team USA lost this 1980 rematch, but the end result didn't really matter. Through hockey, Nick has developed a one-of-a-kind bond with his father. Peter Luukko, the chief operating officer of Comcast-Spectacor, is a busy man. Overseeing the Flyers and Sixers dominates his time during the week. Hockey tournaments made it possible for him to stay close to his sons, Nick and Max. Peter and wife Casey also have a daughter, Dana.

A defenseman, Nick was chosen by Dubuque in the third round of the United States Hockey League entry draft last month and will try out for the team this week. He is expected to enroll at the University of Vermont in the fall of 2011. (Dubuque also chose John Stevens Jr., son of the former Flyers coach, in the fourth round of the futures draft.)

As Nick has gotten older, the trips fade. The memories don't.

"When we have these trips, that was our time together," Nick Luukko said. "We've had so much fun over these last 10 years."

In one year, they trekked to Boston six times. Nick estimates they've been to Beantown at least 60 times. And that's just one city. The Luukkos have traveled all over the world, from Chicago to Montreal to Russia to Germany. One game in Germany, Nick checked an opposing player whose stick, in turn, nailed Dad in the nose. Blood spilled. While getting a MRI for another injury after the fact, Peter Luukko realized he had broken his nose.

At steak dinners, the rink, the hotel and on the road, Peter and Nick learned about each other. They talked about everything, from game plans to schoolwork.

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