Luke Ripley has done the draft dance before.
The 18-year-old was left without a partner at the 2012 NHL Draft, passed up by 30 National Hockey League teams with 211 picks at their disposal.
It’s only served to motivate the six-foot-three, 195-pound defenseman taking a second spin at the draft process in 2013.
“I think it certainly has made me hungrier to be better,” said Ripley, currently plying his trade with the Powell River Kings of the BCHL. “I don’t try and compare myself to the guys that were selected. More so, it’s about improving individually from day to day. If I can do that, then that’s success for me and if an NHL team takes notice, great.”
Ripley, who has five points in 18 games this season after spending last year with the now defunct Dawson Creek Rage of the NAHL, insists that the pressure to perform a second time around isn’t greater. If anything, the Kitimat, BC product feels less.
“I try not to think about the draft as that’s the result and everything in between is what counts,” said the University of Notre Dame commit. “My parents have also been my biggest support network and help me through the peaks and valleys and never put added stress on things like the draft.”
It’s an attitude that has allowed Ripley to be distraction free and focus his concentration on the Kings, who currently sit fourth in the Island Division with 21 points in 24 games.
“I will keep doing my very best for the River Kings and if I get selected at the draft, I am sure it will be an amazing feeling,” he said. “The key will be to keep improving from that point forward.”
And if Ripley is able to accomplish that, he won’t find himself alone on the dance floor at the 2013 NHL Draft.
You represented Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge. How exciting an opportunity was it?
It was a huge honour to be selected to Calgary’s selection camp, let alone being able to represent Canada as part of Team West. There were so many talented players, so when I got the call I was speechless. It was truly an amazing opportunity to be able to represent my country at such a high level, it is something that I will never forget.
The tournament is a big event for the scouting community as well. How important, from a personal perspective, is it to have a successful tournament?
To be honest every time I step on to the ice I have the same mind set. Whether it be for a practise or a game, I’ve learned that worrying about who is in the stands, becomes a distraction and can hinder my play. I try to prepare the best I can, to give my teammates everything I have to offer, from day to day.
Did scouts give you a lot of feedback on what they’d like to see you work on this season?
To be honest, they haven’t really given me a mandate for this season. I feel they try to get to know the person and what makes you tick. I figure if I listen to the coaches, I’ll play the game the right way and that’s probably what they’re looking for.
What is it about your game that scouts do like? What are your biggest strengths out on the ice?
From what I understand, it’s my size and skating ability. I am a big body and I try to use it to my advantage. I feel that I understand the game well and try to keep it simple.
How have brothers Evan and Sean influenced your hockey career?
Evan and Sean are awesome brothers. We are a very tight family from a small BC northern community. We all love the outdoors and try to get out as much as possible. I am extremely close with both of them, they have always been very supportive of me and I look to them for advice on almost a daily basis whether it be for hockey or life. Evan is now with the Battleford Northstars and Sean is in his second year at the Okanagan Hockey Academy.
What’s prompted you to take the college route to your hockey career?
College was always a goal of mine. My parents have instilled the importance of education in all of us. There’s no denying I was five-foot-five in my WHL draft, so they probably weren’t interested anyway!