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Top 40 Goal-Scorers: No. 30

How popular was the No. 30 goal-scorer on the Wolves Top 40 Countdown, presented by Jewel-Osco? When he turned 7 years old in Southern California, Wayne Gretzky attended his birthday party.

That’s right, Gretzky showed up at the Iceoplex in North Hills, California, for Shane Harper‘s birthday party in 1996. Perhaps we should explain: That’s the year Harper started playing hockey — and his house league teammates included Paulina Gretzky and Ty Gretzky. He invited all of his teammates to his party, so all the Gretzkys were there.

“He showed up with TONS of gifts,” Harper said. “It was crazy. It was amazing. He gave me a pair of his Gretzky sneakers. I already had a pair at the time because I loved them so much. He gave me a pair of Gretzky rollerblades. He gave me his new video game that came out for Nintendo.

“I don’t think he was trying to show off. He just thought, ‘I’ll give this kid all the stuff I can give him.’ He seemed like such a nice dad. He would come and watch his kids’ games, even though he was playing full-time with the (Los Angeles) Kings.”

Harper developed into quite the sniper from the right wing. After spending most of his first three professional seasons with the AHL’s Adirondack Phantoms, Harper joined the Wolves for the 2013-14 season and lit up scoreboards for two years. He posted 45 goals and 38 assists in 138 regular-season games, which included a career-high 32 goals in 2014-15. That was good for third in the AHL — right behind future Wolves Teemu Pulkkinen (34 goals) and Paul Thompson (33 goals).

Harper went on to enjoy a brief stint with the NHL’s Florida Panthers in 2016-17. He scored two goals against the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 22, 2016 — one of which was assisted by former Wolves forward Derek MacKenzie.

Harper spent the last three years playing overseas. In 2019-20, he posted 15 goals in 50 games for Orebro HK in the Swedish Hockey League.

Want to review the rest of the countdown?

No. 40: Gage Quinney
No. 39: Tim Breslin
No. 38: Nathan Oystrick
No. 37: Ben Simon
No. 36: Curtis McKenzie
No. 35: Kamil Piros
No. 34: Mark Mancari
No. 33: Simon Gamache
No. 32: Guy Larose
No. 31: Wade Megan