Former Cowichan Valley minor hockey player and Cowichan Valley Capitals junior A player Jordan Topping is heading into his first professional hockey playoff experience on a strong note.
Topping, a 21-year-old product of Saltspring Island, scored his first pro hat trick on April 5 as the Toledo Walleye defeated the Wheeling Nailers 5-3 in their third-to-last game of the ECHL season.
Under contract to the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Detroit Red Wings’ American Hockey League affiliate, Topping has spent the whole season with the Walleye, recording 31 points (17 goals and 14 assists) in 58 games to finish sixth in team scoring as a rookie.
Following his minor hockey years, Topping spent the 2013-14 season with the junior A Caps before embarking on an accomplished four-year WHL career.
The Walleye open the ECHL playoffs against the Fort Wayne Komets on April 12.
Jordan’s 19-year-old brother, Kyle, who also played minor hockey in the Cowichan Valley and spent 2015-16 with the Caps before moving to the Western Hockey League, had to sit out the WHL playoffs as his Kelowna Rockets missed the cut.
Other local products to make the WHL playoffs included Nolan Kneen and Corson Hopwo.
Kneen, a veteran defenceman who turned 20 last month, started the season with the Kamloops Blazers and was traded midseason to the Saskatoon Blades. He had six goals and 39 assists for 45 points in 55 regular-season games between the two teams, and has three assists in six playoff games as the Blades swept the Moose Jaw Warriors in four games, then lost the first two games of their next series against the Prince Albert Raiders.
Rookie forward Corson Hopwo made the playoffs with the Medicine Hat Tigers, who were defeated in six games by the Edmonton Oil Kings. Hopwo had a goal and an assist in the playoffs to follow up a regular season in which he scored six goals and set up 11 more in 59 games.