The 6-foot-1, 201-pound forward is in his third season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Mississauga Steelheads where he was second in scoring through 22 games with 19 goals and 14 assists.
Selected 10th overall by the Florida Panthers at the 2017 NHL Draft, Tippett made his pro debut last season scoring a goal and an assist in five games. This season however, the Peterborough, Ontario native was returned to his OHL club from Panthers game without seeing a regular season game.
“It’s a business up there and it goes further than just what’s on the ice,” Tippett explained. “Obviously they’re looking for certain things and they thought it would be best if I come back for another year.”
Part of his focus for the 2018/19 season is more attention to his defensive game and play away from the puck.
“Obviously I know I can produce on the offensive front so I’m kind of changing my focus to being on the defensive side and it’s a mindset that I want to pursue,” said Tippett. “Just don’t lose my guy in the defensive zone and kind of working back harder and working all over the ice.”
Steelheads head coach and general manager James Richmond was admittedly surprised to receive Tippett back from the Panthers so early in the season. Now the two are working together to round out the 19-year-old’s defensive game.
“I’m going to force feed him penalty killing ‘cause penalty killing, you’re desperate,” said Richmond. “You’re already a man down, sometimes two men down and if you can’t go out and defend in a shorthanded situation, then you’re going to be in trouble 5-on-5 so he’s going to learn that and do the other things.”
Tippett is no stranger to Hockey Canada. He registered eight points in six games as Canada White won gold at the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
In 2016, he scored a goal and two assists in seven games for Canada at the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship and was a part of the Canadian squad which finished fourth at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
“Any time you get to be in the camp, the Hockey Canada experience, it’s pretty special,” he said. “You want to take advantage of it every time and learn as much as you can and just see what they’re looking for in the group so when you go back next time, you know how to act.”
In the summer of 2017, Tippett dressed in one game for Canada at the World Junior Summer Showcase, but was forced to miss this past summer’s event due to a minor injury.
“(World Juniors) is obviously a goal of mine,” Tippett said. “It’s been something you watch ever since you were a little kid, it’s a (goal) to play in that tournament over Christmas. It’s getting closer. I’m getting more excited.”
Tippett is the only member of the Steelheads invited to Team Canada’s selection camp, which begins today, but he’ll have plenty of familiar faces around him as 15 OHL skaters are vying for roster spots on Team Canada for the World Juniors.