Ask the typical CHL fan for the first word that comes to mind when he or she thinks of Utah Owls C Foster Culp, that word would probably be something like “crazy” or “goofy.” Culp has a long history of off-kilter behavior, a history that has earned him the nickname “Bananas Foster.” The last time Culp’s name was in the news, it was for taking a pre-game skate in Cleveland wearing a parka and a miner’s lamp.
One word that’s rarely been associated with Culp is “leader.” And yet, if the season were to end today, the goofball widely known as “Bananas Foster” would win the CHL goal-scoring title.
“I can’t explain it either,” said Culp. “I think we must have slipped into an alternate timeline or something.”
Arguably, Culp is being too modest. Last season with Colorado Springs, Culp scored 29 goals, two less than the league lead. Last year’s co-leaders, Idaho’s Brady Prussian and Oshawa’s Elvis Bodett, are both currently playing the SHL. And Culp seems to have taken his game up a notch this season; he’s already scored 25 goals with a quarter of the season left to go. Culp is two ahead of his closest competitor, Halifax Atlantics LW Jarmann Fischer. Third place currently belongs to RW Harris Wondolowski, who was Culp’s Utah teammate until he was called up to the New York Night last week. (It comes as little surprise that Utah currently leads the CHL in goals with 158.)
Still, the idea of Culp actually being the CHL’s leading scorer seems to amuse or alarm many of his teammates. “I’m pretty sure that Culper leading the league in goals is one of the signs of the apocalypse,” said Owls RW Sylvester Catarino. “If I see any dudes on horseback, I’m going to run. That’s all I’m saying.”
Utah coach Wiley Kiyotie, on the other hand, thinks that Culp deserves more credit for his performance. “Honestly, Foster’s got a lot of natural talent,” said Kiyotie. “He’s fearless about getting to the net, and he knows what to do once he gets there. From an offensive standpoint, he’s a really capable player. Everyone tends to forget about that because he acts like a clown. But he’s not just a clown; he’s also a good hockey player.”
If Culp does pull off the improbable, does he have a celebration in mind? “Nothing too over the top,” Culp told reporters. “Just me, my teammates, a couple hundred girls in bikinis with my name on them, and a thousand bottles of champagne. You know, pretty low-key.”
Might the Night look at calling Culp up if he continues to produce at this rate? GM Jay McKay wouldn’t say for certain, but he did say that “Foster’s performance is definitely getting attention here in the front office. If he can manage not to get arrested or burn the locker room down in the meantime, then yeah, I’d say we’ll be having a conversation.”