By Ken Robison
The Fresno Bee
FRESNO, Calif. – Luke Curtin is the hockey equivalent of a point guard or quarterback. He can score, sure, but he’d just as soon dish to someone else.
With the Falcons playing in their fourth weekend of the ECHL season, Curtin once again is among the league leaders in points and assists — having scored at least one point in seven of Fresno’s first eight games.
The veteran left wing is tied for second in the ECHL with 14 points while his 11 assists tie him for third in the league.
That point total is what Matt Thomas expected when he asked Curtin to accompany him to Fresno before last season. The two have been together since 2002-03 in Atlantic City.
“Luke is a 70- to 80-point player,” Thomas said Wednesday, shortly after his team arrived in Victoria, British Columbia. “I don’t care if it’s 20 goals and 60 assists or 60 goals and 20 assists.”
It’s often closer to the former. Last season, in which he was MVP of the All-Star Game and runner-up for league MVP, Curtin totaled 21 goals and 61 assists for an 82-point season — second in the ECHL in assists and sixth in scoring.
It was his best scoring season, topping the 78-point output of 2003-04 when he had 33 goals and 45 assists for Atlantic City.
Curtin said he takes satisfaction in both scoring and passing.
“Either way, it’s a goal for our team,” he said. “If I move the puck to guys, I’m just as satisfied as if I scored.”
Curtin said his job is made easier by the offensive mentality of his teammates.
“The biggest thing is putting the puck where [teammates] can shoot as quick as possible,” he said. “You need guys who want to get into [a scoring] area, who want to score goals.
“I play with guys who want to do that.”
Thomas said Curtin has excellent vision and can see passing lanes open up.
“Luke is just a good passer,” Thomas said. “He has a knack for finding guys who are open. Watch him on our power play, moving the puck to a guy who can pull the trigger.
“He’s a capable scorer, too, he’s been a 30-goal scorer. But his history and his skill is as a disher.”