By Matt Mackinder
Like many North American 3 Hockey League players, Luke McDiarmid made the jump from high school hockey to Junior A, and after an adjustment period at the start of last season, McDiarmid is experiencing success this year with the Flint Jr. Generals.
Drafted by Flint in the 2011 NA3HL draft, McDiarmid skated the 2010-11 season for the Traverse City Bay Reps before hoping to take his game to the North American Hockey League.
It was while at an NAHL camp in 2011 that the Flint brass noticed the Alden, Mich., native.
”After some teams in higher leagues fell through, I wanted to continue my hockey career and Flint felt like the right choice,” McDiarmid said. “I actually knew a lot about Flint before coming here being that the majority of my family hails from Flint, so in a way, I feel like I’m at home playing here being around extended family. I love the area here. Flint has a bad rep for being dangerous, but as long as you’re smart, you can still have a good time living in Flint and playing juniors here.”
As a second-year forward with Flint, the 19-year-old McDiarmid is playing a more confident game this season and attributes that to knowing the ins and outs of the NA3HL and what to expect from the Jr. Generals’ brass.
“Compared to last year, I feel like I don’t worry as much about making mistakes,” said McDiarmid. “On a team level, I feel that we have more talent than last year and we’re just trying to match last year’s work ethic.”
On the ice, McDiarmid knows his role and plays it to a ‘T.’
“I think I have a mixed role on the team this year,” explained McDiarmid, who wants to play college hockey in the future. “I am a grinder at heart, but am looked at to make room for my linemates to score and put up points in the process. I try to lead by example, whether it’s a big hit or just an energetic shift to get the momentum back into my team’s hands. I love the role I play in Flint. It’s why I love the game.”
Another positive in McDiarmid’s NA3HL career is simply being in the Jr. Generals’ organization. Players past and present have routinely said Flint has been a turning point in their advancement process and McDiarmid wants to use the Jr. Generals as a stepping stone to higher levels of hockey.
“I think the reason our organization has a winning mentality comes from the top of our ownership,” stated McDiarmid. “Kelly Cronk demands success along with coach (Steve) Howard and it rubs off onto the players. We have systems and game plans that we try to execute day in and day out and I think that’s why we are successful.
“From the vets to the rookies, we are expected to win and nothing less.”