Dana Luke's house had grown awfully quiet. Shane Luke's coach was gone. And Bret Luke -- she was just missing her dad.

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Opinion

Dana Luke's house had grown awfully quiet. Shane Luke's coach was gone. And Bret Luke -- she was just missing her dad.

When Kevin Luke died of a heart attack in May of 2011, his family was broken. But they weren't lost, and with him in mind and using love as their duct tape, Dana, Shane and Bret would put things back together.

Just 45 when he died, Luke never got to see his daughter Bret swim at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh or watch his son Shane score a goal for the Providence College Friars.

Dad died in May and both his kids left for NCAA programs in August. Everyone had to adjust.

"I'm just so thankful they went to good programs and had good people looking after them," said their mother Dana. "Kids can take a turn after something like this. It's still raw and we're all thinking about it now because Shane is playing these important games. Kev would love to be seeing this."

When the Friars take to the ice April 9 against the University of Nebraska-Omaha at the NCAA's Frozen Four tournament in Boston, Shane says his dad will be there. He says his dad is there every day and for every game.

Shane and his dad Kevin celebrate a Dauphin Kings' title in the locker-room.

Shane and his dad Kevin celebrate a Dauphin Kings' title in the locker-room.

"Every time I lace up my skates, that's when I think of him. He laced them up for me the first time when I was getting started and then he coached me all those years. He was my coach, my mentor and my dad. Someone I could look up to," said the 24-year-old from Ste. Rose du Lac, now a senior at Providence. "He never got to see me play at Providence. I hope he would have been proud."

Dana and Kevin Luke were recently divorced, but still friends when he died. They were parents, they loved their children and that was a bond that was not going to be severed.

"We still talked about the kids. A lot. Kevin was the athletic one and he passed it on to the kids," laughs Dana. "I always exercised and tried to stay fit. But Kevin was the hockey player. He lost his junior championship game at the Centennial Cup when he was with the Humboldt Broncos. And he watched Shane lose in the Royal Bank Cup national championship when he was with Dauphin. He was thrilled when Shane had the chance to play college hockey. He was proud of both the kids. So am I."

Dauphin hosted the Royal Bank Cup in the spring of 2010. They made it to the final before losing to the Vernon Vipers. Along the way, then-Providence coach Tim Army saw something in Shane and offered him a spot on the team and a financial aid package.

"No one else was recruiting me. No one else was even talking to me," said Luke, calling Monday from the Providence campus in Rhode Island. "I accepted the offer before I even had my campus visit. It was my dream and my dad's dream."

Luke spent the next season with the Kings in Dauphin and had just begun his training in preparation for his freshmen year at Providence when he got the call no kid ever expects to get.

"It was in May. It was sudden," says the son. "It was a heart attack. I didn't know what to do. My sister was leaving too. I had thoughts about not going. But at the end of the day, I had to go. It was hard because coach Army left after he recruited me. But coach (Nate) Leamon has been real good to me. My dad was hard on me. He was my fan and my friend but he was tough. Coach Leamon has been a lot like that too."

Shane, sister Bret (left) and mother Dana get together on senior's day at Providence College a few weeks ago.

SUPPLIED PHOTO

Shane, sister Bret (left) and mother Dana get together on senior's day at Providence College a few weeks ago.

For Bret, leaving home without having her dad to return to was frightening.

"I'd left home before to swim and he was there every weekend to watch me or was there on the phone whenever I needed to talk to him," the 23-year-old said Monday from her dorm in Pittsburgh. "When I left after Dad died, I knew he wouldn't be there for me when I needed to talk. I was moving to a place very far away. My mom has been so great. She did it all for us after that. But I didn't know what it was going to be like and I didn't have my dad to count on. That was scary."

Talk to hockey people and they all say the same thing about Luke -- he shouldn't be as good a player as he has turned out. He doesn't skate that well, isn't that big and he doesn't have a shot to remember.

"First of all, I've had a lot of good kids in my 12 years here," said Dauphin Kings coach Marlin Murray. "But he's the best kid I've ever had. Why? Because he treated everyone well. From the kid here on a tryout for one game to the fourth-year kid on the power play. As a player, he doesn't do anything really well, but he doesn't do anything poorly. High hockey IQ with a knack around the net. You want him on the ice when you're up a goal or down a goal. That kind of kid."

In 39 games for Providence this season, Luke has collected 13 goals and 18 assists. Seven of his goals this season have been game-winners and he had two in a win over Miami of Ohio in the regional semifinals to help get his team into the Frozen Four.

The Lukes collected in Rhode Island a few weeks ago for Shane's senior day. Dana is working full-time and won't be able to get to Boston for the Frozen Four. The plan is for Bret to make the trip.

"My dad was so proud of my sister. It would mean so much for me to have her there watching," said Shane. "My mom and Bret would have been there for me. I look up to my mom and love her so much. For me, well, it would be so meaningful if I could look up and see her in the stands. Because I would see him. She'll represent my dad. That would be perfect."

Kevin Luke should be in the stands beside his daughter when his son plays his final game for Providence. Because his legacy, his children, they're something to see.

Are they ever.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless