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From the Basement to the NTDP, Griffin Luce Loves Playing Hockey

By Becky Olsen, 06/08/15, 12:45PM EDT


Defenseman Helped Team USA Finish Second in Three International Tournaments this Season

Photo by Tom Sorensen.

When Griffin Luce was a hockey-loving 4-year-old, he and his friends would line up on the goal line as his grandma sang the national anthem before games of mini-sticks in the basement.

“It felt right from the start,” Luce said. “It was the game for me.”

His hockey career took off from there. Luce, now a 6-foot-2, 204-pound defenseman, recently finished his first season with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He appeared in 37 games for the U.S. National Under-17 Team and recorded two assists.

Hockey has been part of the Luce family since before Griffin was born. His grandfather Don played in the NHL during the 1970s and early 1980s, winning the 1974-75 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for his qualities of sportsmanship and perseverance. Don Luce is now a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers, while Griffin’s dad Scott is director of scouting for the Florida Panthers. Griffin got started on the game at age 3.

“I just picked up a stick and pretty much liked it from the start,” he said.

Growing up, Griffin’s dad and grandpa often offered advice after games. Looking back, Griffin admits he might not have always been receptive — “I would get frustrated sometimes,” he said — but having that expert-level feedback helped him become the player he is today.

With the NTDP, Luce is focused on being a shutdown defenseman, a role he embraced with he switched from forward to defenseman in 2009.

“It starts in the defensive zone,” he said. “You can see the play more and slow things down. I like the fact you are the one trying to shut down a team from scoring goals. I like that role when playing defense. There is something about it — I like the idea of limiting the other team from scoring.”

Like most players, Luce found the learning curve when joining the NTDP from high school to be steep, but he believes his bigger size helped him transition a bit easier than some others. Prior to joining the NTDP, the Williamsville, New York. native played for Salisbury (Conn.) Prep, where he helped his team win the 2014 New England Prep Championship.

“Over the summer, I worked on my mobility so I could keep up with the guys,” he said.

Upon finding his role with the team, Luce thrived, especially during the international tournaments. He skated for Team USA in the Four Nations Tournament, the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and the Five Nations Tournament. The team finished second in all three.

“Obviously, we get ramped up for those tournaments,” he said. “Guys are at their peak performance for those tournaments. We are representing our country with every game we play. You want to go out there and give it your all. No matter how tired you are or what the circumstances are, you want to play hard.”

In addition to more international play next season, Luce is looking forward to adding college opponents to the schedule. He has committed to join the University of Michigan team after his NTDP days.

“I feel it will be an easier transition after playing college games next year,” he said. “Especially at a younger age when you are playing against 23-year-olds, you can definitely judge your game against those players.

“I think Michigan was there from the start. I like the culture they have there, and there are plenty of guys going there from this team. I like the coaches and the way they do things there.”

In the meantime, he’s living in the moment, appreciating his opportunity to skate with some of the nation’s best players his age while representing his country.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “The first day, you can’t even describe it. Every day, when you put that jersey on, you know you are representing more than just your team. You are representing your country and you want to give your best effort each day,” he said.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

Past Features

Under-17 Team News

#52 Griffin Luce (Photo by Dave Reginek)

Griffin's Favorites

Favorite NHL Team
Florida Panthers

Favorite U.S. Player
Seth Jones

Favorite Movie

Favorite TV Show
Brain Games

Favorite Actor
Will Ferrell

Favorite Actress
Mila Kunis

Favorite Pump-Up Song
"Wild Boy" by Avicii

Favorite Home-Cooked Meal
Grilled Chicken w/Sweet Potatoes & Beans