Luke Prokop, the only publicly out gay professional hockey player in North America, is having a good season with the Atlanta Gladiators, and this weekend he had probably the biggest goal of his tenure with the team.
On Friday, with three minutes left in overtime during a road game at the South Carolina Stingrays, Prokop was at the net when he found the puck and put it in the net:
After his game-winning goal, his teammates surrounded and hugged him on the ice.
It was the team’s seventh straight win to start the season. The Gladiators are the ECHL (formerly East Coast Hockey League) affiliate of the NHL’s Nashville Predators. He had briefly been with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals during the offseason before being moved to the Gladiators.
By all accounts, Prokop is having a very good season so far and bolstering his chances of advancement. He is currently tied for the team lead amongst defensemen in both assists (3) and points (5).
The Gladiators are the only undefeated team left of the 28 ECHL teams this season, standing at 8-0. All of that with a publicly out gay athlete on the team, and the only one in all of American professional hockey.
Each of the previous two teams he played on — the Edmonton Oil Kings and Seattle Thunderbirds — won the championship of the Western Hockey League playoffs while he was on the team.
Yes, the “distraction” of a gay athlete — totally invented by the media and others in sports — is soooooo problematic. So far Prokop has “distracted” his opponents to a thus-far perfect 2023 season and two league championships.