CATCHING UP WITH...JC LIPONJesse Watts
The Kamloops Blazers rocketed up the WHL standings last season to capture their first B.C. Division title since the 2001-02 season. This season, the Blazers are off to another hot start and look ready to defend their B.C. Division crown.
A big reason for the Blazers’ strong start to the 2012-13 campaign has been the growth of players like JC Lipon, who has risen from depth forward status over his first two seasons to being a key cog on one of the WHL’s most dangerous lines last year.
The 19-year-old from Regina, SK, enjoyed a breakout season last year, netting 19 goals and 65 points in 69 games playing alongside Colin Smith and Tim Bozon after scoring six goals and 34 points over his first two seasons combined. Lipon has carried his terrific play through the early part of this season, posting three goals and 12 points through the Blazers’ first six games, and was even named the Denny’s WHL Player of the Week for the week ending October 7th.
A swift skater with a strong competitive nature and a willingness to play physical, Lipon has been a perfect fit playing alongside Smith, a skilled playmaker, and Bozon, a terrific finisher. So far, the trio has terrorized WHL opposition for 11 goals and 33 points in just six games, helping the Blazers remain in the upper echelons of the Western Conference.
Having tasted team success for the first time in his WHL career last season, Lipon is excited to see what this year’s edition of the Blazers can accomplish, and plans to do whatever is needed to contribute to the team’s success.
CATCHING UP WITH…JC LIPON
On the Blazers’ strong start to the season…
“We have had a pretty good start to the season, and haven’t lost yet in regulation play. It’s been good for everyone’s confidence. Hopefully, we can keep up this level of play and look to keep improving as the season goes on.”
On his line’s hot start…
“Obviously, the two guys I play with are very skilled, and I just try and bring some grit to the line, which I think is needed to make any line successful. We seem to be able to read off each other really well. For me, confidence is a huge thing. We’ve been able to have success early on which has given us some confidence. We need to keep building off that confidence and look to get better every day.”
On taking on a bigger role this season…
“I’m hoping to take on a bigger leadership role this season. I have to keep producing, try and find consistency to my game, and be a guy who can be counted on. I’m always trying to improve and work on things. In the end, I want to do whatever I can to help the team win games.”
On the Blazers’ youngsters…
“Obviously, guys like (Matt) Needham and (Chase) Souto are gaining more confidence and looking better every day, and the same goes for (Cole) Ully. Those three guys are playing on a line together, and there is more expected of them. I think they will keep getting better with every game, and will be a big part of this team. Our defence is a younger group, but they have done a great job in learning the structures and systems our coaches have laid out.”
On the challenge to remain at the top of the B.C. Division…
“We expect it to be harder because other teams will be gunning for us and trying to knock off the division champs. We know we have to rise to the occasion every night and that there will be no easy nights. It’s a challenge, but we like challenges. We just played Kelowna, and they were two tough games. Victoria has a lot of guys coming back from last year, and has two real solid lines and a tough defence, so they will be good. Prince George looks like they’ve improved, and will always be a tough rivalry.”
On learning from last season’s success…
“We’ve got more experience this year, and that’s a big thing. Our experience in the playoffs I think taught us that you can never count yourself out. Not too many teams cam come back from a 3-0 playoff series deficit. Obviously, it would have been nice to win that series, but I think we showed a lot of character and strength in coming back in that series versus Portland.”