Don’t you forget about me
JC Lipon certainly isn’t overlooked on a line featuring Tim Bozon and Colin Smith, but he might not get the credit he deserves.
That could change this season.
The Regina product came into training camp in great shape and led the Kamloops Blazers in goals, assists (tied with defenceman Brady Gaudet), points and penalty minutes after two WHL exhibition tilts.
(Kamloops plays its third exhibition game tonight against the Vancouver Giants at Interior Savings Centre. Follow @KTWonBlazers for updates. Log on to kamloopsthisweek.com for a game recap.)
Yes, they were just two pre-season games, but combine the early production with his statistics from last season — 19 goals, 65 points and 111 sin-bin minutes in 69 regular-season games — and Blazer fans have the right to get excited.
“I just tried to get better defensively and, obviously, offensively, because I’m playing with pretty skilled guys on my line, just trying to keep up with them,” Lipon said.
“So far, it’s been a bit of a confidence booster, putting the puck in the net and contributing.”
The six-foot, 181-pound right-winger spent much of the summer at home in Regina staying in shape, working and wakeboarding.
He trained with local fitness guru Rod Flahr, along with NHLers Brooks Laich and Jaden Schwartz, and went to an elite hockey camp in Minnesota, where the likes of T.J. Oshie and Scott Hartnell could also be found.
His day jobs, if they’re even worthy of being called that, were a little slack.
“I poured concrete for my dad’s buddy,” Lipon said.
“It’s two hours to go wheelbarrow and he paid me for six.”
He also had a part-time advertising gig.
“I just go to events and give good-looking girls stuff.”
The dog days of summer are past, though, and Lipon is chuffed to be back in the River City.
Did it bother him last season that Smith and Bozon, both of whom in June were drafted to the NHL, received much of the credit for the line’s success?
“No, I’ve always kind of had it the hard way,” Lipon said.
“I wasn’t drafted to the WHL and I wasn’t drafted to the NHL, but I’m still getting an opportunity.”
The ISC faithful would no doubt like to see Lipon carry his pre-season form into the regular-season opener against Kelowna on Sept. 21.
He would be more than happy to oblige.
“This is part of the process, exhibition games and everything, but I think everyone is pretty ready to get the season started and do things for real.”
(Note: Lipon was near the top of the standings when the Blazers wrapped fitness testing last month. Click here to read more.)