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.
My friend played against him. Said he is tremendously talented and will be a staple on his college team. Im happy with the pick. Would still rather have had Thrush, Ohman, or Pettersson, but its not as bad as everyone is making it out to be.
Nick Luukko, of West Chester, and a defenseman for Gunnery Prep in Connecticut, has verbally committed to the University of Vermont men’s hockey team, according to the USHR and Chris Heisenberg recruiting Web sites. Luukko, 18, is the son of Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko and his wife, Casey.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound, right-shot defenseman was recently ranked No. 150 in the Central Scouting Bureau’s midseason ranking of North American skaters eligible for the 2010 National Hockey League entry draft. He was graded as a “B”’prospect, which often translates to a midround selection.
“UVM has an outstanding reputation both on and off the ice, which we feel is important for Nick,”” said Peter Luukko. “The school produces great student athletes and my family is very excited, and we can’t wait to see our son compete at the collegiate level.”
Nick Luukko is scheduled to join the Catamounts in the fall of 2011. He is a senior at Gunnery and is expected to play a season of junior hockey before attending UVM.