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By Kelsey Helland, 01/21/15, 12:00PM CST


Former Fargo Force defenseman Luke Witkowski became the second alumni to make his NHL debut with the Tampa Bay Lightning on January 20 when the Lightning hosted the Vancouver Canucks. Witkowski was drafted by Tampa Bay in the sixth round (160th overall) of the 2008 Entry Draft. He joined the Lightning on Friday from their AHL affiliate team in Syracuse.

Lightning defenseman Matt Carle has been sidelined until March with an injury, giving Witkowski the opportunity to prove he is of NHL caliber. He wore jersey number 53 and saw the ice for 14:29 minutes in a 4-1 win over the Canucks where he posted a 0 plus/minus rating and 2 blocked shots. Earlier this season he joined the Lightning when a teammate was sidelined with an injury but did not see any game action.

In his time with Syracuse, which began in the 2012-2013 season after his senior year with Western Michigan University, Witkowski has played in 115 games and tallied 18 total points (3g, 15a).

Witkowski had an impactful four years with Western Michigan being named assistant captain his junior season and captain his senior season. He played in 152 total games for the Broncos and registered a total of 38 points (7g, 31a).

Prior to his college career, Witkowski played one year for the Fargo Force and was the team’s captain during their inaugural season in 2008-2009. He led the Force defenseman in scoring with 22 points (6g, 16a) and was tied for 17th overall in defenseman in the USHL.