A Look At: Strathroy’s Lucas Latina – by C. Scott Holland

He admits that he is a “very aggressive” player and is one who has agitated the opposition as a rookie in 2014/15 and has continued this year as a sophomore for the Strathroy Rockets.

The Toronto-born, 5′ 9″ Lucas Latina has certainly made his mark. He has already amassed 84 penalty minutes this season and currently leads the entire GOJHL in penalty minutes.  He ranks Top 10 in West Conference career numbers with 184 for his young career and has almost cracked the GOJHL’s top 10 penalty minute list.

While it may not be the best stat, it does show that he isn’t afraid to do whatever is necessary to aid his team. He says, ” I try to play a good, all-around game.” Sometimes his enthusiasm helps or hurts Strathroy.

The 190 lbs. centreman has two brothers: Anthony who plays for St. Thomas University in New Brunswick and Thomas who plays AA back home. He also has a younger sister Stephanie.

His own hockey style has risen via playing AA with the North York Rangers and Mississauga Rebels (minor midget) plus the Markham Waxers AAA (midget). After earning a bronze medal at the OMHA midget championships, he gave Rockets (former) GM Dan Gibson a call and got invited to the 2014/15 camp. From there via his hard work he made the team.

His resume also boasts the fact that he played in the Greater Toronto Area Prospects game.

While hockey is in his blood, Lucas enjoys a number of other activities including rugby, soccer, baseball, golf, fishing and playing poker. With the Rockets’ changes in GM, coaching staff and players this season, Lucas notes that compared to last season, “it’s a younger squad. Last year we were an older group. But having so many younger players means more inexperience.” Yet he doesn’t think that factor will affect the Rocket greatly. “They are energetic; they work hard and if they continue to work hard and stick to game plans, we’ll be successful.”

However, he says, “This season everyone gets along and it starts in the dressing and shows on the ice.”

Playing in front of large Junior B crowds is a different atmosphere, plus being a veteran has affected him. For Latina, it means more pressure being applied on him to perform well. An added change for him is having the responsibility of leadership. He says, “I just try to stick to my game-style; I do what I have to do – go out there and play aggressively …If any problems arise, I give my advice to the younger guys, so I try to set an example. I was in their shoes last year, so I try to help out in any way I can.”

One simple thing helps him heading into every contest. He clears his mind of everything but the hockey task at hand and he plays “my own game.”

There is another big adjustment for Lucas this season.  In his rookie year he played on the Rockets’ fourth line, this year he centers the Rocket top unit.

As to how he could improve his own game, he states, “As a centreman, the defensive aspect is one – I need to be stronger in the corners, especially since defense is such a big part of the game.”

No matter what happens during the remainder of this season of changes in Strathroy, the 18- year-old Latina knows the Rockets are progressing in the right direction under GM Mike Bondy and Brendan Riggin and the coaching staff. All that concerns him for now is how well he plays hockey and whatever the future brings him will be a reward from the hard efforts he puts in every day.

Photo: Hickling

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