Shane Harper lighting up the ECHL

Shane Harper has an average of 1.12 points per game in the ECHL. (Candice Monhollan)

Shane Harper has an average of 1.12 points per game in the ECHL. (Candice Monhollan)

After almost three years of professional hockey, forward Shane Harper was never able to notch his first career hat trick.

It all changed March 22 in a game with the Trenton Titans of the ECHL.

“I had two in the first [period] and was looking for the third all game,” Harper said. “[Jesse] Todd gave me a nice pass for the empty net and I buried it.”

He wasn’t finished because the next night, he did it again.

“I guess that’s pretty special,” Harper said. “They’re going in for me right now. I scored the third was just like, ‘C’mon.’ That’s pretty amazing.”

He became only the second player this season to record back-to-back hat tricks in the ECHL.

Not bad for someone born in California who started off on roller blades instead of ice skates.

“My parents signed me up for a roller hockey league when I was 5,” Harper said. “It was outdoors on cement and I just loved it. The next year when I was 6, I played in an ice hockey league and never played another sport since.”

At the age of 16, he was invited to join the Everett Silvertips of the WHL after attending a camp.

“My dad left the decision up to me and I just said, ‘Hey, I want to stay,’” Harper said. “I went back home for three days, packed up my stuff and went.”

Through five seasons with the Silvertips, Harper had 100 goals and 114 assists for 214 points.

It was enough to catch the attention of the Philadelphia Flyers.

“The Flyers were talking to my agent and I didn’t really believe it until it happened,” Harper said. “It’s every kid’s dream, right? On March 1, I signed and I couldn’t believe it. It was just an awesome feeling for me and my whole family.”

He signed the three-year contract in a hotel in Kamloops, British Columbia, and found himself with the Adirondack Phantoms for five games to finish out the year.

Harper started the 2010-11 season with the Greenville Road Warriors and spent a 20-game stint with the Phantoms from mid-November through the beginning of January before being sent back down.

He only managed three points in the 20 games with the Phantoms, but was almost a point-per-game player with Greenville, tallying 22 goals and 23 assists.

“I got to play a ton [with Greenville],” Harper said. “I was only 21 at the time and I think it was good for my development. They were great to me”

He spent the next year entirely with the Phantoms and had the biggest goal of his career so far on Jan. 6, 2012.

In a game against the Hershey Bears as part of the 2012 Winter Classic festivities, Harper sent 45,653 fans into a frenzy when he scored 58 seconds into overtime.

“Going into the game, we all thought it was going to be cool, but we all didn’t know how great it was going to be and scoring in overtime just capped it off,” Harper said. “Getting to play in front of 46,000 fans in a baseball park outside at night – it was amazing.”

This year has been a little different for the 24 year old. He has spent most of the season with the Phantoms, but hasn’t had as productive a year as he would like.

The Phantoms had Harper spend three games with the Titans in January and he returned in the beginning of March.

“That’s the way the cards fell this year,” Harper said. “I had a bit of a slow start up in Adirondack, so I came down here and got the opportunity to play a lot.”

The move has paid off.

In his nine games during the month of March, he has 18 points in nine games, including the back-to-back hat tricks.

“If I get the puck in the zone, I feel like I’m pretty accurate right now,” Harper said. “You just have a good feeling. I’m just trying to help the team win and put points up on the board.”

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Categories: ECHL, Features, Ice Hockey, Sports

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