Three Shorthanded, Unassisted Goals for 73's Luke Gecse
By Tim Law
For Essex 73’s forward, Luke Gecse, it still seems a little surreal. But the memory is something he will cherish forever in his mind of an achievement not many have ever accomplished in their hockey career, at any level.
Gecse went directly into the Ontario Hockey Association record books by scoring three shorthanded, unassisted goals in the 73’s 6-2 win over the Dresden Kings on Friday, September 22, 2017 in Dresden.
It’s a feat that has never been accomplished before in the OHA or Ontario Hockey League history. In fact, in the National Hockey League, there has only been one player to ever score three shorthanded goals in a game. Theo Fleury, then of the Calgary Flames, did it back on March 9, 1991 in an 8-4 Flames win over the St. Louis Blues. Fleury scored all three of his goals while the Flames were shorthanded and, amazingly enough, two of the goals came on the same penalty kill. But neither of the goals were unassisted.
South of the border, at the collegiate level, it has been accomplished five times over the past 45 years in NCAA action. As late as February 14, 1998 by George Awada of St. Cloud State. versus Michigan Tech. And as far back as Feb 17,1973 when Norm Cherrey of the University of Wisconsin did it versus Minnesota- Duluth.
What sets Gecse’s accomplishments apart from these records is his were all unassisted.
The irony of it all, for Gecse, his role on the 73’s Penalty Killing unit has been extremely limited. In fact, he has only started to play on the special team this season.
“I was never thought of as a PK player to be honest,” admits the 19-year old La Salle, Ontario native. “For whatever reason, that night, coach [Cam] Crowder just threw me out there to fill in, I guess, because of the early-season injuries we were having. Next thing I know I’m scoring shorthanded goals.”
The 73’s took a 2-1 lead into the dressing room following the first period and found themselves drawing a penalty to start the second period. It didn’t take long for Gecse
Luke Gecse, shown in action earlier this year, scored three shorthanded goals in one game, all unassisted.
Photo courtesy LAURIE BEATEN
to find a loose puck from a rebound in front of the Dresden net and bury it at 1:02 of the middle frame for the first of the three record setting goals.
Thirteen minutes later, still in the second period and Essex again shorthanded, Gecse broke free on a breakaway and lit the lamp with his second shorthanded tally, again unassisted.
“At that point, I’m thinking what the heck is going on here,” joked Gecse, a second-year student studying Industrial Engineering at the University of Windsor, who also enjoys the game outside the rink working part time at Pro Hockey Life Store in Windsor.
With this sudden run of shorthanded luck, of course 73’s coach Cam Crowder had no choice but to keep Gecse out for another penalty kill coming late in the third period. Crowder’s hunch paid off as Gecse once again scored the third of his shorthanded goals. And, once again, unassisted.
“Ya. I was pretty much pinching myself at that point. Even my teammates were giving me the gears. Like where did this come from, smiled Gecse. “
Needless to say, the 73’s were happy with the road victory, but even more elated to see one of their teammates accomplishing such a rare feat.
For Gecse, there has never been any other
personal option, but to play for the Essex 73’s.
“I remember going to their games with my Dad when I was just a young kid,” admits Gecse, who played his minor hockey in the LaSalle Minor Hockey Association before trying out and making the storied Junior C franchise. “It was always my dream to play here [Essex].”
Gecse credits his dad, Robert, and older brother, Blake, who played for the LaSalle Vipers, for being his biggest influences and helping him in his development in those early years.
Gecse’s performance earned him Provincial Junior Hockey League Stobbs Division Player of the Month honours for the month of September. Not one for attention, Gecse quickly and humbly returned to his normal routine including school, work and hockey practice, and reset his focus on continuing to improve his game in hopes of another 73’s league championship.
“Playing on this team, there’s always an expectation to win,” notes Gecse. “That’s another reason I wanted to come here and play. It’s that expectation and the fact everyone’s here to win, and have fun doing it, that makes playing on the 73’s such a great experience. There’s just no place I’d rather play.”