This was in todays Morning Star Newspaper:
Vipers give rookies a chance
Aug 28, 2016
Morning Star Staff
The coaching staff is hardly placing calls to the Hockey Crisis Line after a pair of exhibition losses at Kal Tire Place.
Assistant coach Kevin Kraus makes it very clear the real Vernon Vipers’ roster is still a few weeks from being chosen.
The Snakes lost 3-0 to the Merritt Centennials Friday night, 24 hours after falling 4-1 to the Penticton Vees. Vernon visits Merritt tonight and are in Penticton Tuesday.
“There was some inexperience out there, with just not moving the puck fast enough,” said Kraus, on the loss to Merritt. “It’s tough when you go lineup to lineup and there’s probably 15 new guys in the lineup every night who have never played together. Some guys definitely picked up their game from camp so that was good to see.”
Kraus gave props to top forward recruit Niko Karamanis for a second straight stellar game, also singling out forwards Kaden Black and Justin Lee.
The Vipers iced almost an entirely different B.C. Hockey League lineup from Thursday night, featuring a few veterans including Riley Brandt and Brett Stapley.
“This isn’t our team,” said Kraus. “We’re still making decisions and I don’t think, after two preseason games, you can tell we’re going to have bad scoring or bad goaltending or bad defence. It’s early.”
Ethan Skinner opened the scoring late in the first period, while Tyler Ward added insurance in the second while parked all alone in front of the net.
Merritt made it 3-0 on a fluke goal after Vernon’s Billy Cawthorn made a routine save, only to have the puck ricochet off of a Viper defenceman and back into his own net.
Milwaukee rookie Grant Cruikshank pocketed 1+2 as the Penticton Vees brushed back the Vernon Vipers 4-1 in B.C. Hockey League exhibition play Thursday night at Kal Tire Place.
The Vipers opted to dress a younger squad with only a handful of veterans suiting up.
“It was a good first exhibition game considering the amount of young kids we played and they (Vees) had most of their lineup,” said Viper assistant coach Kevin Kraus. “It was a good showing for our guys; they played a lot of hockey with not a lot of bodies in camp.”
The Vees carried most of the play in the opening 20, getting goals from Cruikshank and Jared Nash and limiting the Vipers to only three shots. Cruikshank, who has a scholarship locked up for 2017 with the University of Wisconsin Badgers, compiled 21 goals and 40 points with the Milwaukee U18 Junior Admirals last year.
The Vipers came out playing more physical in the second period with several big checks and just two minutes into the period, Jagger Williamson found the back of the net on a nice 2-on-1 play with fellow veteran Jimmy Lambert.
Penticton added 5-on-3 powerplay goals from Noah Jordan and Phil Leahy in the third period.
Mat Robson kicked out 14 shot while making his debut in the Vees crease. Gavin Hubbard, 19, of Maryland, and 17-year-old Richmond product Ty Taylor split the Vernon goaltending, each allowing two goals.
Penticton unleashed 35 shots in winning their second straight preseason tilt.
Nolan Hildebrand made 20 saves for the shutout, while Desi Burgart and Turner Ripplinger provided the goals as the Vees iced the West Kelowna Warriors 2-0 Wednesday night.
Kraus gave special mention to d-men Shane Kelly and Mike Ufberg while also praising 16-year-old F Josh Prokoff and veteran forwards Steven Jandric and Brett Stapley.
Cruikshank opened the scoring account just over five minutes into the opening frame. The speedy forward kept the puck on a two on one rush and squeezed a shot underneath the arm of Vernon's Gavin Hubbard at 5:49.
From behind the net, Cruikshank then grabbed a loose puck and quickly threw a dart out front to Nash in the crease for the quick tap-in at 8:37.
Snake Bites: Viper grad Mac Ferner is headed to Concordia University Wisconsin Falcons, a Division lll school.