The third time was the charm for Kamloops Blazers winger JC Lipon.
After the Regina native was passed over in the past two NHL entry drafts, the Winnipeg Jets selected him with the 91st pick of the 2013 draft in New Jersey.
“It was a great feeling to be drafted,” said Lipon. “I’ve worked really hard to get to this point in my career. And it was great to be drafted by a Canadian team.”
At last year’s draft, Lipon was disappointed when all 30 teams passed him over. This year, he was confident a team would take a chance on him after the NHL Central Scouting Service ranked him 83rd among North American skaters.
“I thought I might get drafted last year,” said Lipon. “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.”
Lipon, who turned 20 on July 10, broke out into a superstar in Kamloops this year. He potted 36 goals and 89 points in 61 games, while racking up 115 minutes in the sin bin. The 6-foot, 181-pound winger believes his recent success is from a combination of him being a late bloomer and opportunity coming his way.
“My development has been slower than other players I’ve played with,” said Lipon. “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 strong start to the season got the ball rolling for his outstanding fourth year in the WHL. He scored 16 goals and 40 points in the first 17 games of the year.
“I really clicked with (Tim) Bozon and (Colin) 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.”
Lipon could return to Kamloops next year for his overage season. But it seems most likely he will play for the Jets’ AHL affiliate, the St. John’s IceCaps.