By Darryl G. Smart
Jake Luke certainly has had the scoring touch this season for the Norwich Jr C Merchants. And now he can say he is the top scorer in all of junior C hockey in the province, scoring 40 goals in 40 games.
“The goal mark was never on my mind throughout the season,” Luke said. “I did have a good first game which got me off to a good start. But I’ve never really been one to bury a lot of goals in a season.”
But this season was different. And Luke was in the chase until he caught and surpassed Rylie Cribbin, of the Mount Forest Patriots on the last weekend of the regular season
Heading into the final weekend of Provincial Junior Hockey League action, the forward from Simcoe was one goal behind Cribbin, for the scoring title.
After recording only one assist in Thursday’s 4-3 win over the Ayr Centennials, Luke had one more crack at it Friday in the season finale against the Burford Bulldogs.
Luke didn’t disappoint, netting a hat trick in his team’s 8-2 win over the Bulldogs.
“As we approached to this weekend, I knew it was possible,” Luke said. “But three goals in two games is pretty far-fetched. But with the help of my linemates Ben Cripps and Seth Lamoure, I came out with the three goals I needed in the last game. They just kept feeding me the puck.”
Luke’s fist goal came early in the second period, to give his team a 4-0 lead. And then during a three minute span, close to the midway point of the third period, Luke struck twice in a row to record the hat trick.
But then Luke and his teammates had to do a little scoreboard watching, to see if he clinched the goal scoring title.
That same night, Cribbin and his Patriots teammates were held off the scoreboard in a 3-0 loss to the Kincardine Bulldogs. The next night, with Luke and the Merchants done the regular season, Cribbin scored one goal and three assists in a 6-2 win over the Mitchell Hawks.
Cribbin’s four-point night gave him the PJHL points title with 86. Luke’s 40 was one better than Cribbin, to give him the goal scoring championship.
Luke also added 26 assists to his totals this regular season, to lead his team in goals and points.
Luke and the Merchants will now take on the Ayr Centennials in the first round of the PHL Doherty Division playoffs. Game 1 is Thursday at 7:30pm in Ayr, with Game 2 Friday in Norwich at 8pm.