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Luke Wheeler finished his short Valor Christian hockey career in impressive fashion.
The senior led Valor into the Colorado state hockey tournament finals, topped the state in scoring with 56 points and was selected as the 2017-18 Colorado Community Media South Metro Hockey Player of the Year.
Last season was his first complete season with the Valor Christian Eagles.
Wheeler enrolled as a freshman at Valor but played hockey for the Colorado Thunderbirds. As a sophomore he asked Valor coach George Gwozdecky if he could practice with the Eagles and the Thunderbirds at first approved. He actually played a few games for Valor but not enough to be eligible for the state playoffs.
He played hockey as a junior at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut, but returned to Valor for his senior season to play for Gwozdecky.
“I was happy with the season I had,” said Wheeler. “The biggest thing I wanted to get out of it was improvement. Just like a lot of other guys, I am working to play at the next level. The biggest thing to get there is to get better. I felt like I did that this year with skills, smarts, quickness and all that. I was happy with all the points. It was a good year for me.”
Wheeler, a 5-foot-9, 170-pound forward, finished with 30 goals and 26 assists but dislocated his shoulder in Valor's semifinal win over Monarch and had to sit out the championship loss to Regis Jesuit.
“We had a very talented offensive team,” said Gwozdecky. “Luke wasn't the only big scorer on the team. He was equally excited making great plays and setting up someone else. He won 60 percent of his face-offs.
“He is one of those guys that is very quiet, humble and responsible. He is extremely mature for his age. You know you will get his best in practice, games and the classroom.”
Wheeler, who resides in Golden, was the Colorado Hobey Baker High School Character Award winner and he organized and directed a Military Appreciation Night for the Jan. 6 Valor hockey game at the Ice Ranch.
Gwozdecky still gets comments from people saying it was one of the best events Valor has ever put together.
“The idea has been around all over in the NHL, NBA MLB and everywhere,” said Wheeler. “I just wanted to bring something like that to my high school. We actually did that last year at the prep school that I attended and it gave me the idea of what I wanted to bring back to Valor.
“I thought it would be cool to do because I love our country and the veterans that served. I got together with some of the faculty and some players on the hockey team. The more and more we got into and the more people heard about it, the bigger and bigger it got. It was real cool we pulled it off.”
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