By RYAN MCCRACKEN on December 18, 2020.
Lukas Svejkovsky has reached the virtual mountaintop.
The 19-year-old Medicine Hat Tigers forward simply could not be stopped at Memorial eCup – sweeping Saint John Sea Dogs winger Riley Bezeau, 10-0 and 4-1, in a best-of-three final Thursday to complete a perfect run and win the 64-team e-sports hockey tournament.
“Going into it, I obviously didn’t think I was going to win but I had fun with it and I’m happy I won,” Svejkovsky said in a phone call with the News.
As the tournament’s inaugural champion, Svejkovsky was awarded $1,000 to donate to the charity of his choice, and the fourth-round Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick opted for the Medicine Hat News Santa Claus Fund and the Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter Society.
“Hopefully it’ll go far,” he said. “Obviously it’s not a normal Christmas, it’s a little different. I’m just happy to give back because they’ve given so much to us, not only as players but us as people as well.”
Playing as the Tigers, Svejkovsky made quick work of all six opponents he faced in the tournament, outscoring them 43-11 and relying on some clutch computer-controlled goaltending from a virtual Mads SÃ¸gaard to complete the 8-0 run. It may not have come with the same thrill or satisfaction as being out on the ice at Co-op Place, but Svejkovsky says it was a welcome way to fill the time as he awaits the chance return to the Tigers in person.
“I’d rather be playing, but this was fun for sure,” he said.
The wait for real WHL hockey could still be a while since the league postponed its start date indefinitely on Tuesday – though the WHL is still hoping for hockey this season. Svejkovsky – a product of Point Roberts, Wash. – has been riding out the pandemic in Tsawwassen, B.C., renting a house with his family so he can continue to skate with fellow high-level players rather than be stuck in the isolated American pene-exclave he calls home. It’ll make for a different Christmas, but that won’t matter as long as he’s spending it with family.
“I’m excited for it,” he said. “Obviously we’re not going to go anywhere but it’s going to be nice just hanging out with the family and stuff like that.”