By Annie Fowler | Tri-City Herald
The Chilliwack Bruins were packed up — every last jersey, stick and puck. The 5-year-old WHL franchise was sold and was relocating to Victoria, British Columbia.
The players were part of that package, too, but defenseman Mitch Topping never made it to the ferry.
Just a couple of weeks before players were to report for the Victoria Royals first camp in the fall of 2011, Topping was acquired by the Tri-City Americans for a 2013 second-round bantam draft pick and prospect Justin Spagrud.
For Topping, it seems like yesterday that the trade came down. But here it is three years later, and Topping is scheduled to play his 300th Western Hockey League game Saturday when the Americans host Spokane. He will play No. 299 tonight against Portland.
“I tell all of the young guys, ‘don’t even blink,’ ” said Topping, a native of Red Deer, Alberta. “I remember the older guys in Chilliwack telling me that. You’ll wake up and you’ll be 20 years old and coming to the close of your career. I’m coming down the last stretch here, hitting 300 games and it’s just been a blur. I realize I’ve been in the league for five years and have been through so much — so many highs, so many lows. It feels like yesterday I was getting drafted by Chilliwack (first round, 2008) and heading to my first WHL camp.”