June 18, 2013
After not a single NHL team felt he was worth investing a draft pick on in the last two NHL entry drafts, it seems the third time is the charm for Kamloops Blazers winger JC Lipon.
Lipon, who turns 20 in July, broke out into a gritty star in his fourth season in Kamloops following showing glimpses of his scoring potential last year. He notched 36 goals and 89 points in 61 games, while racking up 115 minutes in the sin bin.
The 6-foot, 189-pounder believes he is a classic late bloomer, but he also feels opportunity had a lot to do with his slow-and-steady development.
“My development has been slower than other players I’ve played with,” he said. “It took me a while to get going in the WHL. The first year I had to adjust to speed and just the overall talent of the league. But I also think I had to earn my ice time more than some other players. I was a smaller player when I came to Kamloops and I was undrafted, so I had to prove that I had the potential to be a first-line player. In my third year (where he scored 65 points in 69 games) I started to take off, and this year I really took advantage of the opportunity I was given.”
Lipon’s hot start to the season is what essentially planted him on the map for the 2013 NHL draft. On a line with Colorado Avalanche prospect Colin Smith and Montreal Canadiens second-rounder Tim Bozon, he scored 16 goals and 40 points in just the first 17 games.
“I really clicked with Bozon and Smith,” said Lipon. “I wanted to get off to a good start and we really did that. But I’ve played and have done pretty good with a lot of different players like Brendan Ranford.”
Hockey Canada took notice, giving him a spot on their world junior squad. This opportunity to represent his country on the big stage took Lipon slightly off guard.
“Before the season, I thought it would be really tough to make Team Canada and even get an invite to their camp,” said the Regina native. “There are so many drafted players that they give a shot to, I didn’t think it would really happen. But my good start to the season caught their attention and I worked hard in camp to make the team.”
Lipon wasn’t surprised by the draft attention he has received, though. He felt he was poised to garner some interest from scouts following receiving a camp invite from the Colorado Avalanche last spring.
“I thought I might get drafted last year,” said Lipon, who is ranked 83rd among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting Service. “I haven’t been surprised by the rankings from Central Scouting and other scouts. I kind of knew going into this season that I had what it takes to have a big year.”
1. How would you describe yourself as a player?
“I’m a high-energy guy. I play hard and make an impact at both ends of the ice. I’d say I’m a power-forward type that can be used in all situations.”
2. You told Neate Sager of BTN earlier in the year that you spend time in the summer wakeboarding. Have you been busy this summer wakeboarding or have you not had time for the lake?
“I’ve been wakeboarding this summer. I just freestyle but I enjoy doing it and I still do it. It also helps strengthen my core, so it’s kind of a workout.”
3. Do you model your game after a player in the NHL?
“I like to play like (Los Angeles Kings captain) Dustin Brown. He plays hard, scores, and agitates. I think I’m like that. I also like (Chicago Blackhawks star) Jonathon Toews. He is in a different calibre of talent than me, though. I’m more like Brown.”
4. Who is your favourite NHL team?
“The Chicago Blackhawks. I’m not sure why, but I’ve just been cheering for them for a while. I like how they play.”
5. What’s your favourite movie?
“Django. I recently watched and I really liked it. It’s an exciting movie with a lot of action.”
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen