Lipps closing in Chippewa history

Manistee center Sam Lipps is three points shy of being the co-op Chippewas’ all-time leader in points. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate)

Sam Lipps and Nolan LeClaire played on the same pee wee, bantam and junior varsity teams before three seasons together for the co-op Chippewas.

Lipps had a knack for finding LeClaire, who went on to become Manistee’s all-time leading goal scorer. Lipps is now poised to break his former teammate’s program record for the most points, and fittingly said it required an assist from LeClaire.

“There’s no way I could have done this without him,” said Lipps, a Mason County Central senior center. “I was big in helping Nolan get points and he was huge in helping me get points. We benefited from each other.”

In three-plus varsity seasons, Lipps has 36 goals and 69 assists for 105 points, two shy of LeClaire’s 107 over three seasons for the Chippewas. Lipps has four goals and two assists through four games this season for Manistee (2-4), which is in its sixth varsity campaign.

While LeClaire scored more goals (68) than anyone in team history, Lipps already holds the record for assists, which he said was aided by advice he got from his dad Joel while playing on the bantam team.

“He told me I should stop worrying about scoring goals so much and worry about playing a little defense and getting a little more passes,” Lipps said.

That suited Lipps well when he joined the Chippewas as a freshman and skated with high-scoring teammates Marek Pospisil, Luke McCarthy and LeClaire. Lipps tied for second on the team with 20 assists that season.

“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “It definitely made me a better player, playing that first year.”

It’s not common for freshman to play on the varsity squad, but Manistee coach Jon Raatz said Lipps belonged on the ice.

“From the first year he was on the team, he’s always worked hard, he’s been eager to learn, and he’s a good team player,” he said. “He just gives maximum effort all the time.”

Lipps led Manistee in assists each of the last two years and was named a Division 1 All-State honorable mention last season before going on to win a bronze medal for Team North in the State Games of Michigan. Now a co-captain, Lipps said it’s been a rough start with a younger team this year, but he’s adjusting and looking forward to becoming the program’s all-time leader in points.

“That’s huge,” Lipps said. “I’m sure it will get beat some day, but it’s going to be a long time.”

When he does get three more points to break the record, Lipps said he wants the puck so he can put a piece of tape across it and write down the points to commemorate the occasion — and, not just for himself.

“I would actually like to get Nolan a puck too and put his points on it,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it without him.”

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