Goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen played a starring role in the major Ontario Hockey League turnaround that the Sudbury Wolves fashioned during the 2018-2019 season.
And the writers and broadcasters who cover the OHL on a regular basis took note.
Luukkonen, who has a 1999 birth date and who is a top prospect of the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League, has been voted as the OHL’s Most Outstanding Player.
The Finnish goalie made his first — and likely only — season in the OHL a memorable one as he took a Sudbury team that had finished last overall in 2017-2018 to a strong fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference in 2018-2019.
After putting up only 43 points during the 2017-2018 season, the Wolves more than doubled that total to 91 in 2018-2019. And Luukonen did more than his share in what was a stunning rebound season in Sudbury.
Luukkonen was in the net for a remarkable 38 of Sudbury’s 43 regular-season victories. And he was the goalie of record through two rounds of the playoffs for the Wolves.
He was thankful in accepted the award as the OHL’s top player.
“There are so many great players who could have won this award and I am humbled to have been chosen,” he relayed. “I want to thank the Sudbury Wolves organization for giving me a chance to play.
“I want to especially thank my teammates, owner Dario Zulich, general manager Rob Papineau, and my coaches, including goaltender coach Alain Valiquette, and trainer Dan Buckland for everything they have done for me,” Luukkonen concluded.
The 38 wins that Luukkonen posted was the most by a Wolves goalie since Jimmy Bedard won 40 games for Sudbury back in 1975-1976.