Pittston, Luzerne County -- The puck dropped Saturday afternoon at Revolution Ice Centre in Pittston during the 6th annual Dave Burke Memorial Hockey Tournament. The tourney is named in honor of a 24-year-old Scranton man who died from leukemia in 2008. The tournament has since expanded to remember another young man who lost his battle with leukemia in 2012 -- 18-year-old Gary Lukasiewicz of Taylor. "Both loved hockey very much. I'm sure both of them would really enjoy playing in this tournament and that in my opinion this is the best way to honor them," said tournament director Mike White.
Both Burke and Lukasiewicz were goalies -- a position that not only requires skill, but also expensive gear -- more than $1,000 in equipment. Tournament organizers wanted to raise funds to furnish goalie equipment to help young, aspiring athletes attempt minding the net. Organizers brought up the idea with the Lukasiewicz family. "We talked with them about how we can help carry on Gary's name and his legacy in the hockey community. It was an interest that they had remembering what it was like as Gary was a child," said Mr. White. Gary's mother Cheryl Lukasiewicz added, "We both agreed that that would be the best thing to do because a lot of kids don't want to be a goalie because it's expensive and it's a hard position on the ice."
The discussion gave birth to what's called "Gary's Locker" -- something young goalies can use at what was formerly called the Ice Box. "They'll be able to borrow the equipment out of the locker, use it for their games, their practices, etcetera put the equipment back into the locker so that other children can use it as well," said Mr. White.
With hundreds of skaters participating in the weekend hockey fundraiser, organizers hope to provide four sets of goalie equipment for very young to middle school aged kids. The effort is something that Gary's mom believes would make her son proud. "I think he'd be happy seeing the goalie locker and children being able to appreciate being a goalie and trying it out."
The Jenkins Township Old Timers Hockey Lions Club is hosting the tournament. The hockey tourney continues through Sunday at Revolution Ice Centre in Pittston and Coal Street Park in Wilkes-Barre.