Tippett ready to play a big role on Team Canada after strong season with Steelheads
Updated: Dec 22, 2018
Owen Tippett is ready to show the world what he’s got. After not being invited to the selections camp for Team Canada’s World Junior championship team last year, Tippett is ready to make his mark in the annual December tournament, a tournament that’s long had a tradition of showcasing the brightest young stars before they enter the NHL.
“Watching all the tournaments when you’re growing up with your family at Christmas time, it’s always been a goal of mine [to play in the tournament],” says Tippett, who plays for the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League. “Last year, it was tough not being invited to camp but it’s made me more eager to make it this year.”
A notable omission from last year’s Canadian world juniors selection camp, Tippett used that as motivation for the rest of the season to get better, paying close attention to his 200-foot game.
Drafted tenth overall by the Florida Panthers in the 2017 draft, Tippett would make the Panthers lineup out of camp last year, playing in seven games before being returned to the Steelheads. He would register his first NHL goal in his fourth game, but that remains his only point.
After being cut from this year’s Panthers camp, Tippett says he’s continuing to work on his game and a commitment to play on both sides of the ice. The Peterborough-native made a statement in his return to Mississauga this season, scoring a hat-trick in his first game, something that he believes was a combination of motivation as well as the excitement of being back with the Steelheads.
“It was my first regular season game of the year, so it was exciting to see what kind of team was here and working with familiar teammates,” Tippett says.
And even with familiar faces in the Steelheads locker room, there is also a lot of new faces. Gone is the leadership group of Michael McLeod (who just made his NHL debut with the New Jersey Devils on November 30th), defenceman Nic Hague (Vegas Golden Knights/Chicago Wolves), and Jacob Moverare (LA Kings/Frolunda). Now, the experienced group consists of new captain Cole Carter, forward Michael Little, Oilers’ second round prospect Ryan McLeod, Kings prospect Jacob Ingham, and Tippett who are all taking on bigger roles.
Tippett admits that he’s taken more of a leadership role with the team, on and off the ice. Even during the Canada/Russia Series in November, Tippett was named one of the captains of the team, receiving an ‘A’ on his jersey.
On the ice, Tippett is showing what he can bring offensively, while using his speed to get back into position in his own zone. He and Carter are currently leading the Steelheads in points with 33 and 37 points, respectively, results that he hopes can lead to a Memorial Cup run.
“Being an older guy and having that experience in my second year [winning the Bobby Orr trophy], we want to have as many experiences like that as we can so it’s a goal of all of ours to get as far as we can,” Tippett says.
He understands what he can do and knows what needs to be done. Right now, he’s ready for the World Junior Championships. Named to the selection camp that begins today, all that’s left to do is to put on the red maple leaf jersey and show that he’s ready to play a big role.
“I’ve worked on my two-way game a lot. It might not have been something I could say a few years ago but I’m getting better and better. You got to be a 200-foot player to play at the next level.” says Tippett
And when asked about what the emotions would be like of putting on the jersey for the Canadian world juniors team, Tippett says with a grin.
“It’s going to be more of relief than anything, it’s a pretty special moment to put that jersey over your head.”