Every year, there is a bunch of guys that come to Allen to try to make their push to get into professional hockey. Most of these guys are young, fresh out of juniors or college and looking for a foot in the door to make their dream of playing in the NHL a reality. Everyone has to start somewhere, and for many guys that start comes in the Central Hockey League. It's not often you see a 28 year old rookie trying to make the squad for his first pro hockey roster spot. Luke Flicek has had a very interesting path to be in Allen this season to see his dream come true.
Luke grew up in Minnesota, the self-proclaimed "state of hockey." He excelled at sports in high school, becoming an all-star and captain of all three sports he played: baseball, football and, of course, hockey. He excelled in academics as well, being named to the National Honor Society and "A" honor roll.
Flicek then left to play for the Texas Tornado of the NAHL, and in his second year he was a part of the Robertson Cup championship team. He led the team with 65 points (23g 42a) in 55 games that championship year. After all of the success he had at the high school and junior levels, why would he go into the Army?
Find out after the jump.
According to Flicek, the real question is why Army hockey. He had been in touch with the Army hockey program through high school, and then went to play juniors for the Tornado. When all was said and done, "West Point was the opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I went there obviously knowing I had some active duty service to tend to after I graduated from there, not to mention all the hard work that goes into just going there for four years. The hockey program has a long history, and it was just an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. It was great to go to West Point and play four years there, and then obviously after that you owe your service obligation."
That service obligation would take the form of two years spent in active Army duty. Flicek was a part of the military intelligence branch, serving as a 35 Delta All-Source Military Intelligence Officer. He had a group of 12 men in his unit, where they spent a full year in Iraq from September 2009 to September 2010. Serving that long together makes them a pretty tight knit group of friends. "They’re among the first and the foremost to be kind of cheering me on in doing this." The great thing was some of the guys in his unit were already hockey fans, but he "definitely" turned some of the others into hockey fans as well. Some of the guys had been stationed in Fort Benning, and taken in a few of the Fayettville FireAntz hockey games. "They’ve gotten their taste, and obviously they love the fighting, that’s the thing. That’s not my realm of the game, I’m more helping to put the puck in the back of the net, but they definitely enjoy that aspect of it."
Flicek is definitely not much into the fighting, but he does have experience with helping his team create offense. From his West Point Army player profile, Flicek is described as:
excellent all-around skills ... gifted goal scorer ... one of Army's most talented wingers ... coaching staff expects a lot in sophomore season ... possesses much potential ... hard-working forward who is not afraid to forecheck and mix it up in the corners ... special teams player ... expected to give that unit a much-needed lift ... intense hockey player ... knowledgeable ... creative around the crease ... knack for scoring big goals ... plays his best against tougher competition ... type of player willing to attack any challenge ... will play important role on faceoffs as well.
This is what Flicek wants to bring to the Allen Americans this season if he makes the team. When asked about how Allen is treating him so far, he said he loved the town. "I spent a wonderful two years down here, won the NAHL title our second year, met a lot of great guys and this was a spot that was definitely near and dear to my heart. And now I’m just 10 minutes up the road."
Hopefully he'll get to stay there. Plenty of Allen Americans fans will be cheering him on to make the squad when the Americans kickoff their season this Friday, October 21 at 7 PM at the Allen Event Center. And what would be a more fitting place for a war veteran to make his pro hockey debut than with the Americans?