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Tripp speaks at Minor Hockey Awards

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While the season came to a close for the Swan Valley Stampeders last month, graduating player Josh Tripp continues to make headlines.

The now 21-year-old forward earned the title of the MJHL MVP and Top Scorer and has now been named a finalist for the CJHL MVP and Top Forward Awards.

On Tuesday (May 7) he attended the Minor Hockey Awards Night - along with Stampeders teammates Jackson Betcher, Lane Kirk and Carter Cockburn as well as former teammate Riley McKay – and spoke to those in attendance about the importance of achieving both on and off the ice.

Here is what he said:

"I know most of the people here but for those that don't know me, my name is Josh Tripp. I'm from Minitonas and I played all my minor hockey in the Valley. And, I played three years for the Stampeders.

"My minor hockey days produced some of the best memories and best times in my life. I did things like traveling to Grand Forks, North Dakota for a tournament in the springtime and winning the 2011 Pee Wee AA Provincials in Thompson.

"I also got to play a lot of mini sticks in hotels with my friends. I love playing mini sticks so much that I still play to this day. I only play the odd game because, unlike back then, it takes about three weeks for my knees to recover after.

"I also made countless friends along the way. Some of my best friends that I still hang out with almost every day are people that I first met through hockey. Every person that I've ever played with I consider a close friend and I keep in touch with a lot of them still to this day.

"I know many of you younger kids probably want to grow up and get to play in higher age groups and at higher levels. But, you should cherish minor hockey days and cherish getting to miss school to go to tournaments and mess around with your friends in hotels. And, just getting to go out to play hockey without having to worry about all the other stuff that comes along with growing up.

"I say cherish getting to miss school but as all of you have probably heard a bunch of times already school is important. And, as someone going into my first-year university, I wish some people would have stressed that a little more to me when I was in high school or elementary school.

"Most of you probably can't wait to get older, because you want to be able to hit, but take it from someone who has been hit really hard a couple hundred times… you probably don't want to rush into that.

"Listen to your coaches, because more often than not they want what's best for you. They'll teach you a lot and I know a lot of people like Stampeders assistant coach Darren Webster, one of my coaches for many years, taught me many life skills through hockey. I've learned stuff like teamwork, leadership, perseverance and hard work among other things that are great life skills to have.

"As you progress in hockey, and if you decide you want to keep playing, remember that as long as you work hard and put everything you can into it, you're setting yourself up for success.

"There have been many success stories out of a Swan River. It's a place that a lot of people say is hard to go anywhere from, but there are people like Jackson Betcher, Carter Cockburn, Lane Kirk and myself that all played on the Stampeders this year and had the best year in franchise history.

"There are people like Riley McKay, who went undrafted in the WHL Bantam Draft but has spent the last three years terrorizing it. Then there’s Tristin Langan who was a late-round pick by the Moose Jaw Warriors and wasn't really given much of a chance until this year, where he put up 113 points and I'm sure will get some pro contract offers from that.

"Those are only a few of the people that I've played with that have gone on to be successful. So remember, keep your head up and work hard with anything you do in life, not just hockey.

"Congratulations to all the players on a great season and thank you for having me."

Check out next Tuesday’s (May 14) issue of the Star and Times for a full recap of the evening and the night’s winners.