Now on Tap

Keenan Taphorn, top selection of the Kootenay Ice at the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft, is looking forward to 'what the future holds'

Some players have exciting or emotional stories to tell when they recount their experiences on WHL Bantam Draft day.

For Keenan Taphorn, his was one of conflicting emotion.

The 15-year-old forward was going through a regular day at Yorkton Regional High School. When the Kootenay Ice made him their top pick at the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft, Taphorn was sitting comfortably in computer class and watched as his name popped up on the screen.

“I was stoked. I was very happy,” Taphorn said Tuesday afternoon over the phone.

Though Taphorn’s initial reaction on draft day was one of excitement, his joy was quickly turned on its head when he was separated from twin brother, Kaeden, as the Vancouver Giants claimed him in the third round (47th overall) of 2015 WHL Bantam Draft.

“I was devastated,” Taphorn said. “I was watching and saw that Kootenay was nine picks up. I was crossing my fingers he wouldn’t be chosen [before the Ice selected 56th overall in the third round]. But seeing the Giants take him, I was really devastated.

“We’ve played together our whole lives. It wasn’t a great moment.”

For now, the Taphorn twins find themselves on opposite sides of British Columbia in terms of the Western Hockey League, but Keenan is hopeful there might be some magic in the works to bring the two together before they have to face-off against one another on a WHL playing surface.

“Hopefully we can get something happening here and get us to play together again,” Taphorn said.

For now, only Keenan Taphorn is property of the Kootenay Ice and director of scouting Garnet Kazuik characterized him as “a typical Kootenay Ice player” coming from a winning tradition.

Growing up in Yorkton, a community of 15,669 located approximately 190 km northeast of Regina, Taphorn spent his 2014-15 season with the Yorkton UTC Bantam ‘AA’ Terriers.

The Terriers went 30-1-0, finishing first in the Saskatchewan Bantam ‘AA’ Hockey League’s (SBAAHL) South Division, before claiming the SBAAHL playoff title.

If that isn’t enough of a winning pedigree to associate with Taphorn, how about the fact he idolizes NHL goal-scoring speedster and Stanley Cup champion Jeff Carter?

“That just shows you how smart he is right there,” said Graham Garrett, Taphorn’s coach with the Terriers, over the phone Wednesday afternoon. “He’s kind of got that tall, lanky stature…The shooting, the speed, the right shot — [Jeff Carter is] a good guy for him to emulate. That’s the type of player he is.

“He’s been great to coach. He’s got a really excellent skill set, listens well and understands what’s being taught and expected by the coaching staff. He’s a good teammate. He was a leader in the dressing room. Even though he’s quiet, he leads well on the ice.”

At 6-feet and 157 pounds, Taphorn has room to grow, but at a young age, he already fills a frame much like the 6-foot-4, 209-pound Los Angeles Kings’ sensation.

After tacking up 30 goals and 76 points through 24 games in his second season with the Yorkton UCT Terriers, the soft-spoken Saskatchewan boy is doing his best to model his game after his NHL idol as well.

“I’d describe myself as a physical forward who likes to create plays off the rush,” Taphorn said. “At the same time, [I] can shut down the other team’s top lines.”

As a 15-year-old, Taphorn won’t get his first crack at shutting down the WHL’s best until the 2016-17 season at the earliest. With a wave of youth about to crash down on Cranbrook this season, the newest member of the Kootenay Ice might just get that opportunity when he first becomes eligible.

“It’s a huge jump,” Taphorn said. “You’ve just got to keep on working at it every day. Just try to improve. Get stronger and faster in all the aspects of the game. At the end of the day, just give it your all and try to get one step closer to playing in the WHL.

“The last couple years, I’ve realized I want to go the WHL route. It’s something I really want to do. We’ll see what the future holds here and hopefully I can play in the WHL one day.”

Those are welcome words for Kootenay Ice fans, who watched helplessly as 2014 first-round pick Griffin Mendel committed to the BCHL’s Penticton Vees recently.

Taphorn is set to suit up alongside his brother with the Saskatchewan Hockey Association’s U-16 Summer Camp squad, featuring 42 of the province’s top second-year bantam players.

The Taphorns represent two of the top 24 forwards in their age group in Saskatchewan with their naming to the roster.

After that, he will visit Cranbrook for the first time when Kootenay Ice training camp rolls around in August 2015.

“I heard it’s a beautiful city down there,” Taphorn said. “We’ll see what the future holds.”

Taphorn will spend the 2015-16 season at home in Yorkton, where he is expected to suit up for the Yorkton Midget ‘AAA’ Maulers, once again under the tutelage of Garrett.

“I look forward to that and we’ll work on some more of his physical development as well as his mental preparation for games and his understanding of how the game needs to be played at the WHL level,” Garrett said.

“Whoever coaches him [in Cranbrook], he’ll be a pleasure to coach. He’ll add to the ability of the team to be successful.”

Just Posted

The latest EKASS survey confirms a steady decline in substance use among EK youth over the years. (image compilation via Pixabay)
Latest survey shows steady decline in adolescent substance use over the years

Starting in 2002, the survey has been conducted every two years to monitor changes in substance use patterns, attitudes and behaviors amongst East Kootenay youth.

The Aquatic Centre at Western Financial Place.
Cranbrook Aquatic Center to close temporarily

The annual shutdown of the Aquatic Center at Western Financial Place will begin earlier than scheduled this year and does not have a defined end date at this time.

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

It happened this week in 1914

June 6 -12: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers held at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read