Thursday, February 24, 2011

Senior Tribute: Luka Vidmar

This is part four of five tributes which I'm publishing today highlighting the careers of each of the five graduating UAA Seawolves senior class.  The members of the class in alphabetical order are Tommy Grant, Nick Haddad, Craig Parkinson, Luka Vidmar and Sean Wiles.

Luka Vidmar
This 6ft, 1in 196lb Seawolf defenseman's career originally from Ljubljana, Slovenia can be summed up in a few words; consistent, steady, reliable, dependable, solid, trustworthy and responsible.  Luka has been all those things pretty much since he first stepped on the ice at UAA.  While playing junior hockey in the USHL, Luka converted from wing to defenseman.  When I queried one of coach Jon Waibel with Chicago as to what we might expect from Luka he told me ...
Luka has a lot of upside as a player. He came a long way last year maturing into a defenseman. Luka has high expectations that hopefully at UAA he will reach his goals. He is a smart kid that I think will contribute to the college game even more than juniors. Playing on an olympic sheet will benefit him even more because of his skating ability.
And Luka has lived up to that billing.  As much as I've credited his steadiness and dependability, Luka can also be dynamic going forward.  His shot selection from the blueline is always smart and pucks that come off his stick seem to often have eyes finding their way through traffic to the net.  His skating is everything you'd expect from a top caliber WCHA defenseman with only true speedsters capable of getting around him on the outside.  He plays smart and controlled at all times.

Last summer he played for the Slovenian National team during the IIHF World Championsips and acquitted himself very well.

Prior to coming to UAA, Luka played for the Chicago Steel in the USHL for 2 seasons and in 104 games he potted 9 goals with 28 assists.  In the 06-07 season there he finished tied for 3rd on the team in poinst and was the top scoring blueliner for that squad.

As a freshman Luka scored 1g, 5a in 30 games for the Seawolves.  That single goal came against this weekend's opponent UAF.  Most of his playing time during his rookie season was on the 2nd defensive pair.

In his sophomore year, he again contributed just a single goal scoring against DU in the WCHA playoffs.  He was named the UAA Scholar-Athlete with the teams best GPA and was also a member of the WCHA All-Academic team.  

Last season Luka scored 2 goals and added 10 assists over the course of just 20 games as he was injured through the middle of the season.  One of those two goals came against rival UAF.  He was again named to the WCHA All-Academic team.

This season in 29 games Luka has scored 1 goal and added 9 assists.  He is second in scoring amongst defensemen and currently 9th overall on the team.  He plays in all situations.

Going forward, I'm guessing Luka finds a European opportunity to pursue professional hockey.  If I came from Europe, six years in the U.S. might be enough for me!  I kid America.  It makes sense though for him to play in Europe as the exposure he got last summer will probably pay off with some offers that might not be here in the U.S.  

Luka is an AHL-capable player but would probably have to start in the ECHL and work his way up.  I've no doubt though that he could step right into a role in any number of European leagues.  I understand that Nils Backstrom and Mat Robinson are both doing well in the Finnish league.  Luka would as well.

Whatever the case, I wish him the best with whatever path he chooses for his post-UAA life.  It takes a person of high character to live away from home for six years while pursuing hockey and an education.  That cannot be easy.  The UAA program has been a welcoming place for many European players over the years and Luka's legacy here should be a positive indication for any future players there that might consider coming here.

All the best again Luka.  We'll miss your consistency, effort and steadfastness.  We'll look forward to seeing you play for Slovenia as they climb the ladder to top IIHF division.



kelly said...

I'm curious what his +/- rating is for his career at UAA. I am sitting at my desk laughing out loud at this laudatory post. At least once a game I consistently say two phrases, "get Vidmar off the ice" and "I wish Shyiak would pull his scholarship." I will be so glad when he moves on down the road.

Donald Dunlop said...

His cummulative +/- for his first three years was -13 .. that's -3 the first year ... -5 the second and -5 last year.

On a team that wasn't .500 for any of these seasons that not a bad number overall. Feel free to visit the bio pages on the GoSeawolves website and compare as you will. You'll find Luka's numbers don't compare badly. I'd encourage you to look also at the numbers of past defensemen that you hold in high regard.

On a parting note. Your inability to focus on positive aspects wouldn't serve you well writing a fan blog. Perhaps you should strive to be one of those admirable unbiased journalists. Good luck with that.

On Wolves said...

@kelly: I have been perplexed by Luca's decision making on more than one occasion this year... but this isn't the forum to complain about it. Look at the title of the post.

Luca's value to the team was on full display this past weekend. D looked good on Friday, not so good without him on Saturday. Nuf said.

Good luck Luca... I'm going to miss yelling "LUUUUUUUUU" at the Sully. (at least I still have "BRUUUUUUUUU")

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