Lucas Gonzalez played for two USPHL teams during the 2022-23 season, but feels he has found his niche this season with the Tampa Bay Juniors.
“My family actually moved down here last season while I was playing in Chicago (for the USPHL’s Chicago Cougars), but ultimately, I just kind of went to the tryout camp and did my best to show I belonged here,” Gonzalez said. “The big draw to sign with TBJ was the true focus towards player development instead of just winning games like some other programs. When I met with the coaching staff over the summer, I was very impressed with their true care for their players and the community that they have at the rink. Also seeing the number of guys they move on to colleges, I knew that what they were doing here would work and so far, it’s been great here with basically everything - good group of guys, good staff, and good training. I am definitely looking forward to a warm winter.
“Since my family does live here now, I have had the convenience of being able to live at home with my parents. However, I did live away from home last season which was fun and it really taught me to do things myself and to come out of my shell a bit since I did not have any family to rely on, having to instead rely on my teammates.”
Back home in Longmont, Gonzalez was hooked on the game of hockey from Day 1. “I ultimately started playing hockey because of my dad as he is the one who got me on the ice and is one of my biggest inspirations,” said Gonzalez. “The Avs definitely did play a role, though, as seeing the team allowed me to follow through on wanting to play the game.” Once he got going, Gonzalez played most of his developmental years for the Hyland Hills Jaguars, which I loved with great coaches there like Tyson Davis and Chance Creger being the two that had the biggest effect on me,” Gonzalez said. “They were the ones who really helped with my development and helped me get to the junior level. “I’ll always remember the guys in Colorado that I played with, just the fun memories with them and getting to grow up with them.”
Now loving life in Florida, Gonzalez has started to look ahead at what his future may bring. “Short term, I definitely want to make a nattys run this year with our team and I think the group we have here can definitely do it,” said Gonzalez. “Ultimately, I want to play NCAA Division III college hockey and hopefully get the chance at playing semi-pro overseas.”
This article first appeared in December issue of Rubber Hockey Magazine
Photo by Alex Walworth