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Youngsters hoping to realize hockey dreams
By Kevin Allen, USA TODAY

When defenseman Luke Lucyk of Fox Point, Wis., was drafted at 16 by the Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League in 2002, he remembers thinking, "What kind of team is that, and what is it doing in Kearney, Nebraska?"

On his first visit, he noticed every car seemed to be damaged. "We're thinking, 'This looks like a rough area — I don't know if I want to be here' " Lucyk says, laughing, "but come to find out, they had gone through a hail storm with softball-sized hail."

What Lucyk and about 275 other young players know today is that Kearney is hockey country, as is Lincoln, Neb., Sioux City, Iowa, Sioux Falls, S.D., and other eight cities that have a USHL franchise. Players, age 16-20, come to these towns lured by the prospect that playing in the USHL, an amateur-status league, can enhance their chances of making it in college hockey and drawing notice from the NHL.

Youngsters hoping to realize hockey dreams - USATODAY.com
 

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I think it's great that the States has this league going in the right direction. Hockey needs a system between HS and college like in Canada and many other countries. HS seasons aren't long enough and the level of play is on par with good junior leagues over a long period of time.

I love hearing positive hockey stories coming out of the States.
 
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