Henry Kipper signs with Helena Bighorns
BY KEVIN BONESKE
A 2016 Rhinelander High School graduate is heading to Montana to play junior hockey next season.
Defenseman Henry Kipper signed a tender letter Tuesday to play with the North American 3 Hockey League’s Helena Bighorns.
“This just shows what people are capable of at the high school level,” said RHS activities director Brian Paulson, who pointed out Kipper elected to play for the Hodags his senior season instead of leaving early for the junior hockey ranks. “Henry, thanks for the four years you’ve given us.”
Paulson said the last Hodag to play junior hockey was 2015 graduate and goalie Jake Arno, who was on the Arizona Hawks’ roster last season.
“I haven’t had many kids that want to get promoted and go somewhere…,” said RHS boys hockey head coach MJ Laggis. “I ‘m very proud of what Henry’s doing.”
Kipper noted he will be eligible to play three years of junior hockey after high school because of his age.
“Some kids, depending on how old they are in their grade, they may have only two years of juniors after high school,” he said.
Kipper said he received two other offers to play junior hockey, but felt the most comfortable with the program in Helena.
“The fact that the coach for this team seemed to express the most interest in me, (compared to) the other two, and the esteem of the program, I thought that this was the best decision to make,” he said.
Kipper said there won’t be many other defensemen to compete with on the team for playing time after the Bighorns lost four defensive players from last year and recruited only two new defensemen.
Upon heading to Montana to play junior hockey next season, Kipper said he will be living with a “billet family,” which he compares to a family that hosts a foreign exchange student, and likely also take classes online through Nicolet College.
Kipper, who is considering majoring in business marketing, said he would like to play college hockey once he finishes playing junior hockey.
“Division I (college hockey) would be nice,” he said.
Previously a three-sport athlete in hockey, football and track in high school, Kipper said he will now be able to concentrate on one sport by playing junior hockey.
“I expect to develop a lot,” he said.
Given the distance from central Wisconsin to Montana, Kipper said he doesn’t expect his parents to attend all his games next season, but hopes they will be able to go to games the team could play in Minnesota.