SDSU Hockey Player Profile: Luke Desmarais

Luke Desmarais did not originally attend San Diego State University for its hockey program, but the sophomore has found a great love for the sport, his team, and competing since coming to San Diego.

The forward started his hockey journey in Redwood City, California about equidistant from San Francisco and San Jose. Although the Bay Area is not a typical hockey market, he was introduced to the sport from his father.

“My dad is from Canada,” shared Desmarais. “He played as a kid and still plays men’s league. I used to go to his games as a kid. That’s what got me into it.” The father-son duo would also support their local NHL team, the San Jose Sharks.

The youngster turned to competitive hockey in 2015, suiting up for their Golden State Eagles’ triple-and-double-A programs while in high school. In his four seasons with the club, he developed in a variety of ways as a player.

“I had two main, different coaches. One was super strict, super hard working. The other had more fun practices. Both were super different but I got a lot out of both.”

After producing nearly a goal-per-game in his final Double-A season, Desmarais wanted to continue his hockey journey at a higher level. But, being scouted in an area with little hockey coverage was difficult, and saw the young forward take matters into his own hands.

“Because I was from the Bay Area, I had to do it myself.” Desmarais had to send videos to coaches and correspond with teams himself in order to keep playing hockey. He eventually found a home with the North Iowa Bulls in the NA3HL, the third division of US junior hockey.

But, his stay with them was short-lived. “I got COVID during their training camp, so I didn’t go,” Desmarais said. “Then, I got cut.”

He continued: “I got basically traded to the Sheridan Hawks. It honestly worked out super well.”

Desmarais pivoted to playing his 2020-21 season in Wyoming, where he would stay with a host family and live over 1,000 miles from his usual home.

Luckily, his teammates were also experiencing a similar struggle and quickly bonded. “Everyone was really close. Practice every day. We’d have team dinners every Thursday. Those team dinners and parties really got us closer together.”

And over time, Desmarais also formed a lasting bond with his billet family. “At first it was weird,” he said on living with complete strangers. “I didn’t really know what to expect. But after the first couple weeks it was like I was a part of the family. They took me in. Even for breaks, like Thanksgiving, I’ll go back to Wyoming to visit them.”

But, Desmarais knew that attending college would be the next step in his personal journey. He wanted to attend a large university and felt SDSU was a great fit. “I love the area down here. I used to do hockey tournaments down here. The weather’s always perfect. The beach is right here. Can’t really beat it.”

He did not even know that SDSU had a hockey team. “I didn’t really care about the hockey until I came here. Hockey was a bonus for me.” His days of playing hockey continued.

Photo courtesy of @baseballmegs

Desmarais waited to join the team after the season kicked off, and would only slot into four meaningful ACHA Division-II games. Yet, his brief time with team would be an unforgettable experience.

“I really liked the guys. I started in November and we ended in February. With the team for that four-or-five months, I really bonded with the guys,” Desmarais added. He was hooked, and joined the team in their debut ACHA Division-I season.

Currently, he’s tied-second in goals and fourth in points among Aztec skaters, as a player not even recruited prior to coming to SDSU. As the seasons winds down, Desmarais has become reflective on his experience with the graduating class.

“I love all the seniors. [Ian] Stentz, [Brandon] Roselli, [Michael] Pellegrino, all the seniors. Super chill, super fun. I’m excited to see where they go next year with their lives. Being able to stay in touch with them, see how they’re doing.”

He was also quick to recognize that there will need to be new recruits to replace those key seniors, as seniors Michael Pellegrino and Blake Reed lead the team in points in addition to other soon-to-be graduates playing large roles on the ice.

Next season, Desmarais is excited about the reinforcements from their incoming recruiting class. These new players will allow the team to an opportunity to get back at the opponents that previously disposed of SDSU easily.

“It’s not even (about) having revenge against them. Competing is so fun. When you win by a lot, it’s whatever. If you lose by a lot, it sucks. When you’re actually able to compete, it’s way more fun. I’m excited for that.”

The 0-18 Aztecs will also be rematching the team they were already most-competitive against. The George Mason Patriots defeated the Aztecs 3-2 in overtime on Oct. 28th on the team’s trip to New York.

“That was a super fun game. I don’t think we knew much about them, because they’re from Virgina. They’re fast, they’re good. I don’t think we had a full team then either. So I definitely think we have a chance to win,” he added.

The Aztecs will face off against the Patriots today at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 8:30 p.m at the Kroc Center for their final games of the 2022-23 season.