Skate fast and run into somebody.
That is what the Juneau-Douglas High School hockey coaches told 6-foot-2 junior ice rocket Luke Sewell at the beginning of the season.
“He has really stepped up this year for our program,” Juneau-Douglas coach Luke Adams said. “He has tremendous skating ability and his hockey skills have rapidly improved over the course of the season. We try to take that ability and use it whenever we can. A lot of times we just tell him to skate as hard as he can and run into people.”
Sewell, selected Player of the Week, is told by coaches if he gets to the puck, he is not to stop.
“He is the type of player that if you are watching the game, you notice him,” Adams said. “He is everywhere and skates with a lot of intensity. He has taken every opportunity given to him and made the absolute best of it.”
Starting the season as a swing player between the junior varsity and varsity teams, Sewell has improved so much that he has a shift on the Crimson Bears top level.
Sewell plays the forward center position with a lot of speed, mostly catching passes on the break out and being a support guy.
Coaches credit him as a team player with a positive attitude whether with the JV or V groups.
Sewell began skating when the Treadwell Ice Arena opened in 2003 and grew up with his current teammates in the Juneau Douglas Ice Association ranks. He was a defender and not a goal scorer.
His first varsity goal came in November while playing against Homer on the road and is the highlight of his career to date.
“No doubt about it,” Sewell said. “It was pretty intense, the best feeling I have ever had.”
The goal came on a Homer power play.
Sewell was checking two Mariners in front of their net. His opponents tried a short D-to-D pass (defender to defender), which Sewell intercepted before launching a backhand shot.
“It went in the side pole,” Sewell said. “It was sweet. I wasn’t expecting it to go in. It was insane.”
Coaches said Sewell’s celebration was “was one for the ages and very loud.”
“It was one of those moments that if you wanted to know what it is like to have fun playing hockey, you just had to look at that guy right then,” coach Adams said. “And that is really what this year has been about for Luke. He has found that fire again. He has become a very important player for us for many reasons.”
Sewell’s hobbies are hockey and school with not much time for anything else, aside from two trips to ski at Eaglecrest.
His favorite food is ketchup.
“If that sounds too weird, my second would be steak (with a lot of ketchup),” Sewell said.
Sewell’s favorite movies are Pulp Fiction and The Big Lebowski; favorite musical groups are Dillon Francis, Knife Party and Skrillex; and favorite books are To Kill A Mockingbird and Grapes of Wrath.
“I like to think there is more to me than meets the eye,” Sewell said.
Teammates call him Angel. It stems from a JV game in which Sewell, then a defender, skated around the net with the puck during an opponent’s line change, doing crossovers and building speed for an end-to-end rush. He lost the puck.
The team goalie at the time said, “Luke, you skate like an angel, but gosh darn it, don’t do that.”
“Skating has always been my strong point,” Sewell said. “Not so much everything else. But since I have been playing swing this season I have been getting a lot more ice time to develop more skill. At the beginning of the season I told coach ‘I love skating and I really like hockey’ and he thought that was funny and said to just enjoy it. He said be the first guy on the floor check.”
Sewell enjoys the camaraderie of the JDHS hockey team.
“It is the same group of guys I have been playing with ever since I was a little kid,” Sewell said. “It is really great to be able to do that at the high school level and at that next level of competitiveness. We all have a really fun time. I think we communicate pretty well, we get along pretty well, and it is just really fun. I love the feeling of skating and speed. And the occasional goal is always nice.”
Sewell and the JDHS Crimson Bears host the Bartlett Golden Bears on Friday (8 p.m.) and Saturday (7 p.m.) at Treadwell Arena.