WHL INSIDER: Change of scenery just fine with Mappin

When Cass Mappin requested a change of address, he had no idea he’d soon be off to the hub of beautiful British Columbia.

When Cass Mappin requested a change of address, he had no idea he’d soon be off to the hub of beautiful British Columbia.

“I was looking for a change of scenery, a fresh start. When I heard I was coming to Vancouver, I was very happy,” the power forward said on Thursday, two days after being dealt to the Giants from the Red Deer Rebels, who received Slovakian winger Andrej Kudrna in exchange for the Big Valley product.

“You couldn’t play for a more successful franchise,” said Mappin, who recorded an assist in his Giants debut on Tuesday, a 5-1 spanking of the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Giants head coach Don Hay told Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province that Mappin was acquired as a means of providing the team with extra grit and determination.

“So far, so good.

“Everything is going well. I was happy with my first game and I’m fitting in with the guys,” said Mappin.

“The team was doing OK without me, but I’m hoping I can bring a bring a new element.

“I’ll try to do whatever is asked of me, whether it’s scoring or blocking shots. I just want to help this team win.”

Mappin met briefly with Rebels head coach/vice-president of hockey operations Jesse Wallin following a recent game and requested a trade.

“I told him that I thought it would be good for myself and the Red Deer Rebels if he could relocate me,” said Mappin, who was passed over in June’s NHL entry draft despite being ranked as a middle-rounder by Central Scouting, and then received — and accepted — an invitation to the Columbus Blue Jackets rookie camp.

“I could have gone home and waited for a trade, but I didn’t want to leave Red Deer on a bad note.

“I was hoping the team would have a winning record when I was traded. I would have preferred the Rebels were 3-1 when I left, instead of 2-2 (after losing 3-2 at Calgary on Sunday).”

Mappin admitted that it was at least somewhat difficult to leave Central Alberta and his former teammates.

“I left a lot of people behind, but that’s part of hockey. You do what is best for your hockey career,” he said.

“You can always talk to your family and friends. They’ll always be there, no matter where you are, and you know you’ll be seeing them again.”

l The premier 15-year-old players in the west will converge on Blackfalds later this month for the Western Canada Under 16 Challenge Cup.

Deputy mayor Will Taylor insisted that the community is eagerly anticipating the onslaught of the young athletes, as well as the parents and WHL scouts expected to attend the Oct. 28-Nov. 2 event at the Multiplex.

Taylor credited the town’s minor hockey staff and recreation board for bringing the competition ­— featuring four provincial teams — to Blackfalds, and noted that the financial impact should be plentiful.

“As well, hosting this event is a feather in our cap and says we’re the ‘big-happening’ community just north of Red Deer,” he said. “The town itself has a very good reputation and we’re hoping to build on that.

“We’re looking forward to hosting similar events, absolutely.”

The Western Canada Under 16 Challenge Cup is the cumulative brainchild of the western minor hockey branches, who will continue to run the event on an annual basis in preparation for the Canada Winter Games, which starting in 2011 in Halifax will use 15-year-olds in the hockey competition.

“This gives us a trial run for the Canada Games,” said Hockey Alberta general manager Rob Litwinski.

“It will let us find about how to run this age category and how to prepare for it in the future.”

With the majority of the players involved being 2009 WHL bantam draft picks, it was only natural that the league would be approached to play a supporting role in staging the event.

The WHL accepted the invitation and is a host partner with the four western provincial hockey associations.

“We’ve always been supportive of any initiatives that the western branches have brought forward,” said WHL commissioner Ron Robison.

“Our feeling is that we have an obligation to support the system to make sure that these players and coaches have the best developmental opportunities. Supporting the Western Canada Under 16 Challenge made an awful lot of sense and the best place in our view to start the event is right here in Alberta, where we’re based along with Hockey Alberta.

“It’s great to have a facility and a community that has embraced the event and it’s going to be a special experience because the smaller venue will provide a great atmosphere for the players.

For these kids, we want to make sure that their first experience in the Program of Excellence is a real positive one.”

The fans will be the big winners, Robison predicted.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to bring together all of the best players in this age group in Western Canada and them see go head to head,” he stated.

“This is the very first competition of this type for this age group. These kids will be extremely excited to perform and there will be a lot of pride on the line, I’m sure.”

On the move: The Calgary Hitmen have two 20-year-olds on their roster after releasing forward Jason MacDonald on Thursday. The move, which GM Kelly Kisio made to create more playing time for younger players, leaves the Hitmen with two overage skaters in forwards Joel Broda and Cody Gross, who was released by the Red Deer Rebels during the off-season . . . The Medicine Hat Tigers added a pair of players in a mid-week trade with the Moose Jaw Warriors, acquiring 19-year-old forward Matt MacKay and goaltender Deven Dubyk, 18, in return for 17-year-old centre Mike Forsyth, who’s currently playing with Camrose of the AJHL, and a sixth-round pick in the 2010 bantam draft. The deal left the Tigers with three goaltenders, including 20-year-old Ryan Holfeld, who is one of five overage players on the team’s roster. The Tigers also welcomed defenceman Thomas Kundratek, 20, back from the New York Rangers . . . The Brandon Wheat Kings were all smiles on Tuesday as Matt Calvert, 20, returned to the club after an impressive training camp and pre-season with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Calvert, in fact, was offered a contract by the NHL team, but decided instead to rejoin the Wheat Kings, the 2010 Memorial Cup hosts. Forward Brayden Schenn also rejoined the club from the Los Angeles Kings and new Finnish forward Toni Rajala is expected to return from a summer knee injury next week . . . The Seattle Thunderbirds sent 19-year-old forward Jeremy Boyer to his hometown team, the Saskatoon Blades, on Monday. The Blades gave up 15-year-old forward prospect Stefan Burzan and a third-round selection in next year’s bantam draft . . . The Lethbridge Hurricanes attempted to solve their early goaltending problems with the acquisition of 20-year-old former Regina Pat Linden Rowat this week. The ‘Canes are expected to move Michael Tadjdeh to make room for Rowat.

gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com

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