A Liptober to remember
Twitter blew up last night with a litany of JC Lipon puns — some creative, some corny and some downright stupid — after the Kamloops Blazers' 5-4 shootout victory over the Oil Kings in Edmonton.
The fact remains — call it serendipity, call it serenLipity — the 19-year-old from Regina continues to light up the Western Hockey League.
Kamloops was down 4-3 with less than two minutes to play in the third period when Blazer defenceman Tyler Bell took a checking-from-behind penalty.
It seemed the Blazers' unbeaten-in-regulation record of 9-0-0-1 was about to be blemished.
Instead, in a defensive breakdown Edmonton coach Derek Laxdal must find infuriating, Lipon — the reigning CHL and WHL player of the week, two weeks running — was left wide open in front of the Oil Kings' net.
Colin Smith, an Edmonton product, stole the attention of three Edmonton players and fired a bullet pass to Lipon and the on-fire Blazer made no mistake.
A road-weary Kamloops squad killed the rest of the penalty, forced overtime and then a shootout, in which Smith thrilled friends and family in attendance by scoring the winner.
There were plenty of reasons — outside of Lipon — why the Blazers won the game,
Defencemen Sam Grist and Tyler Hansen received praise for being stalwart on the back end from their head coach, Guy Charron, in a Radio NL post-game interview.
The Blazers were assessed nine penalties, while the Oil Kings were on the penalty kill just three times, so Kamloops deserves credit for withstanding the onslaught.
Brendan Ranford scored once in the game and once in the shootout, during which Kamloops netminder Cole Cheveldave shut the door, stopping Henrik Samuelsson and Dylan Wruck of the Oil Kings.
Wruck had a fantastic game in a losing cause for Edmonton.
Lipon, though, was again the game's lead story.
It was, according to Twitter, an unbeLipable, Liptastic, Lipcredible performance in what Blazer fans are calling a Liptober to remember.
And, it's not just Lip service (thanks to CFJC's Bill O'Donovan for that one) — there are numbers to back it up.
He opened the scoring at 6:03 of the first period. He finished the game with two goals, including the one that tied the game, and a helper.
He had a Gordie Howe hat trick, the fight with Travis Ewanyk coming at 7:59 of the second frame.
Lipon leads the WHL in scoring with 11 goals and 27 points.
Lost in Lipon's shadow is the play of linemate Smith, who is only four points back of the league-leading Regina kid, with seven goals and 23 points, good for second place.
The Blazers are the No. 1-ranked team in the CHL and show no sign of slowing.
Next up on the Alberta road swing are the Hurricanes in Lethbridge on Friday, Oct. 19.
Before Kamloops embarked on the trip, Lipon was confident his team would fare well.
“This road trip is a tough trek, but I think we can win them all,” Lipon said.
“There is still a goose egg in the loss column, so we’ll try to keep it like that.”
The Blazer forward has wielded almost omLipotent power in the season's early going and fans of the Blue and Orange must be wondering how long the hot streak will last.
"It’s going in right now and I’m just going to keep rolling with it,” Lipon said.