His name was supposed to appear earlier, but then nothing is guaranteed regarding the WHL draft for graduating 15-year-old bantams.
Red Deer defenceman Joel Topping was projected by many as a first-round pick for Thursday’s draft, but slipped to the bottom half of the second round where the Lethbridge Hurricanes took him 41st overall.
“We, and that includes my family and friends, kind of decided that it’s more about the team I go to rather than a number,” said the six-foot, 170-pound blueliner. “We have confidence in my abilities and I don’t think a number can really change that.
“I almost take it as a challenge. I can go in there with not quite as much pressure than if I was a first-rounder.”
Topping was the captain of the Rebels Black during the 2009-10 Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League season and also led the team in scoring with 47 points (15g,32a) in 33 games.
“I’m thrilled to be going to Lethbridge. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the organization,” he said. “I’m really happy.
“I know that I can one day play in the league and do well. Where I was selected doesn’t mean everything to me because I know Lethbridge is going to use me and hopefully I can help them have success.”
Topping was one of four Rebels Black players taken in the draft. Forwards Scott Ferguson and Scott Feser were selected by the Red Deer Rebels and netminder Matt Zentner of Red Deer (4.12 GAA, .873 save percentage) went to the Prince Albert Raiders in the 10th round.
“It was a really good year for our team. We found some success, and with team success always seems to come individual goals,” said Topping.
Topping’s older brother Mitch, a defenceman with the Chilliwack Bruins who returned home following the team’s elimination from the WHL playoffs, was present when the draft news was relayed Thursday.
“My brother has a spare morning class so he stayed home with me and I was texting my mom and dad who were at work following the draft,” said the younger Topping. “When my dad came home to drive me to school, my name was called.”
Two members of the Red Deer Rebels White were also drafted, with netminder Anthony Hamill of Red Deer (3.94 GAA, .908 save percentage) taken by the Medicine Hat Tigers (from the Everett Silvertips) in the fourth round and forward Kyle Messervey of Sundre (4-19-23 in 33 games) going to Everett in the ninth round.
Rebels nab goalie
The Red Deer Rebels might have a new face between the pipes next season.
The Rebels, with their final pick of the WHL bantam draft Thursday in Edmonton, took junior A netminder Kirby Halcrow, the only 1991-born player selected during the draft.
The Rebels passed in the 11th round, then, after the Kelowna Rockets dropped the 19-year-old from their protected list, took the Grande Prairie native in the 12th round, 254th overall.
The 19-year-old played with the Quesnel Millionaires of the BCHL during the 2009-10 season and his puck-handling abilities helped the Mills upset the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and extend the eventual league winners and defending national junior A champion Vernon Vipers to six games in a best-of-seven playoff series.
“We wanted to add some goaltending depth for next season,” said Rebels director of scouting/player development Randy Peterson. “We were tipped off by different pro scouts who watched him play this season. He wants to play in the league and we’ll have him come in and compete for a job.”
If 20-year-old Darcy Kuemper is assigned to the pro ranks by the Minnesota Wild, the six-foot-two, 220-pound Halcrow could battle Kraymer Barnstable, 20, for the Rebels’ starting job next season.
l The Rebels drafted in every round except the fourth and seventh, due to earlier trades. They had two picks in the fifth round.