? by Joel Vanderlaan | AHL On The Beat
After a pre-season trade brought Jake Lucchini to the Friendly City, he has become a mainstay in a Belleville Senators lineup that has been in constant flux since opening night.
The team has completed no less than 52 transactions due to a rash of injuries and COVID-19-related recalls to Ottawa.
The versatile forward has excelled on special teams and played both left wing and center as needed. Lucchini currently paces the AHL Senators in scoring with 12 points and six goals through 13 games, already effectively doubling his offensive totals with the Laval Rocket in the pandemic shortened 2020-21 season.
“I just tried to come here and have a positive impact on the team,” said Lucchini, who was acquired by Belleville from the Rocket on Oct. 12. “I don’t really set a lot of goals for myself. I just try to come in every day and try to get better and try to help the team however I can.”
Signed to an AHL deal for the 2021-22 campaign, Lucchini has developed a solid rapport with Senators head coach Troy Mann. The 2019 Michigan Tech graduate majored in sports management and minored in coaching.
“He’s a very intense coach, and I do really like that,” Lucchini said. “I want to be challenged. I just want him to have faith in me for him to put me on the ice at any time. So far, it’s been really good.”
Likewise, Mann has nothing but praise for his alternate captain.
“He’s been a fabulous pick-up for us, and a guy we’ve really enjoyed coaching.”
Belleville ranks amongst the league’s youngest teams. The club has depended on the even-keeled 26-year-old to provide leadership amidst some early-season adversity.
“I just try to help them as much as I can, whether I just try and lead by example, or if they need to talk about something or advice,” Lucchini said. “I just try to be a voice for them and help them through whatever they’re going through. All our young guys are really good guys, and sometimes you just want to say something to try and help them out, but for the most part, they know what they’re doing and are doing a good job.”
Lucchini acknowledged he was shocked when Laval elected to trade his rights to Belleville. He also noted that finding his groove was a bit difficult amid so many roster moves. At the same time, he said he was thrilled to be offered such a prominent role with his new club and to grow his offensive game.
If his great play continues, Mann and team executives will most certainly advocate to keep him in a substantial role moving forward. But for the moment, Lucchini has found a home. The native of Trail, B.C., recently moved out of his hotel accommodations and is ready to enjoy life among the fans and residents in the Bay of Quinte region.
“The fans are great. The rink is awesome… It’s been awesome so far. I’ve been getting a really great opportunity, and it’s been a lot of fun.”