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The Age of Excellence: Homegrown hockey star

In one of the quieter SCV sports, Shane Harper has made a lot of noise

Posted: December 24, 2009 6:36 p.m.
Updated: December 25, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Valencia High graduate and former Vikings hockey player Shane Harper has 79 goals and 95 assists on his career with the Everett Silvertips. Both totals are second in the organization's history.

 
The date was May 25, 2005.

Shane Harper’s Ice Station High School Hockey League career lasted only a few years, but on that day he capped it off with a hat trick in Valencia’s 5-3 win over West Valley to win the league championship.

It was just a glimpse at the success to come.

Harper was named the MVP that season, and the following year, he found himself in Washington, where he began his career with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League.

Already owning one team record, while second in three others, the former Vikings hockey star is edging ever closer to the National Hockey League.

“I just don’t want to jinx myself, but teams have really been interested as of late,” Harper says. “Things are looking good.”

Harper, 20, is currently a free agent, meaning he is currently eligible to sign with an NHL team.

He says he has talked with such teams as the Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota Wild, Tampa Bay Lightning, San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings.

But there is a lot to consider for a team looking to sign free agents, Harper says.

“Where you are at and how old you are,” he says. “They look at whether you are improving or whether you are just kind of declining.”

And that’s good for the 5-foot-11-inch, 193-pound right winger, who is in his fifth season with the Silvertips, where he has played in 177 consecutive games and his 298 games played is first all-time.

Harper first came into the league when he was 16-years old and had to quickly adjust to the speed of the game and the size of the much older players, most of which come from Canada.

The opening of Ice Station Valencia helped him hone is skills.

“In Canada, those guys can go to a rink just around the corner,” he says. “I’m just so lucky there was a rink right there. It was easy to play in the offseason.”

It also allowed Harper to build memories and confidence.

“That was a blast, getting to play with my high school friends” he says. “We would get quite a few people to come to the games. At that time, I never had people come to a game before.”

With Everett, Harper has racked up 174 total points off 79 goals and 95 assists, all of which are good for second on the franchise’s all-time list.

The team record for goals scored in a career is 87.

Harper was named the team’s most improved player for the 2007-08 season.

The next year he won the Silvertips’ Ironman Award and was named Co-Most Valuable Player.

This season, he was named an alternate captain and has scored 21 goals with 19 assists.

According to team captain and roommate Zack Dailey, it was just a matter of time before his friend broke out.

“I’m not really surprised at all,” Dailey says. “I knew he had it in him. It was just about getting his confidence up and the coaches giving him a shot.”

Over the years, Dailey has watched Harper develop in more ways than just his goal-scoring ability.

“He’s our top point guy and most skilled guy, but he’ll still stick up for his teammates,” Dailey says. “I know someone got hit in one of our games and Harper fought the guy who hit him, so he definitely sticks up for his teammates and he’s very encouraging.”

Harper calls Dailey one of his best friends on the team and someone he hopes to stay close with for years to come, much the same way that he has with friends from his childhood.

In February, former Valencia football star and current Cal running back Shane Vereen, one of Harper’s closest friends since elementary school, came to visit and attended a game.

“That was exciting for me to get a change to go see him play up in Washington and see how good of a hockey player he is,” Vereen says. “He impressed me a lot. Our relationship, we’ve been best friends since third grade. We have a tight relationship.”

Both Harper and Vereen, who started at running back for Cal in the Poinsettia Bowl, recall that the stadium was packed that day, not uncommon for a Silvertip games.

On a sold-out night, the team can draw 8,500 fans to the game.

“That was kind of fun because obviously he knows what it is like to play in front of a lot of fans,” Harper says. “He was really impressed. ... Our fans are crazy in a good way.”

Vereen says he works out with Harper whenever they are both in town.

He has seen his friend’s dedication to his sport first-hand, and his thoughts on Harper’s success and potential NHL career come without reservation.

“Much deserved,” he says without a pause.

At the midway point in the season, the Silvertips are fourth in the U.S. Division at 19-13 with two overtime losses and one shootout loss.

There is still a lot more that Harper can accomplish.

Maybe his next stop will be Staples Center as a member of the Kings.

Maybe he will end up in the AHL.

But no matter where Harper ends up, he has come a long way from his days at the Van Nuys Iceoplex as a 6-year-old budding star and as a Viking at Ice Station Valencia.

“I have so many friends that I’ll have for life,” he says. “I’m definitely proud of what I’ve done and I hope I can keep playing.”


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