Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Watson Primed For Viper Duty:
Watson primed for Vernon Viper duty
by Kevin Mitchell - Vernon Morning Star
Sep 28, 2016
They couldn’t find his luggage in Vancouver after a long flight from Minneapolis. Then there were some delays at customs.
Despite all the chaos, Cooper Watson used the word fun to describe his weary arrival in Canada early Friday morning.
The newest defenceman and 20-year-old appears to have the no-whine attitude required to fit in with the B.C. Hockey League Vernon Vipers. He makes his debut Friday night in Powell River versus the Kings.
“I literally knew nothing about the Vipers and I didn’t know anything about the league,” said Watson, prior to Tuesday’s practice. “People said the league is a little different than the USHL and I thought I may get on with another USHL team, but when that didn’t happen, this was the next best spot.”
A product of Appleton, Wisc., where Watson loves fishing with his father and three brothers, the big d-man spent the last two years with the Madison Capitols of the USHL.
“I feel coming here will further develop me as a complete player. Mark (Viper head coach Ferner) was an NHL defenceman so I know he’s going to be a big help. I’m known as a stay-at-home guy so I’d like to explore my offensive side while here.”
His brother, Carver, recently left the Tri-City Storm of the USHL for the BCHL Chilliwack Chiefs, while brother Cliff is a senior captain of the NCAA Division 1 Michigan Tech Huskies. Cooper and fellow Viper Jagger Williamson have committed to the Huskies.
“I don’t know my billets’ names or even what part of town I’m living in; it’s all too new,” chuckled Watson, a cycling addict who is a nasty 6-foot-3, 175-pounder.
He rang up four goals, 13 points and 176 penalty minutes in two seasons with Madison.
Ferner liked what he was in Watson at practice Monday at Kal Tire Place. The Vipers now move to Priest Valley Arena since their dressing room is being groomed for the Edmonton Oilers for this weekend’s Kraft Hockeyville.
“He’s fine, he’s a big body and he plays hard. I’m not sure who we’ll pair him up with yet. We’ll wait and see.”
Ferner, meanwhile, figured the Wenatchee Wild would give his club a true and tough test in the fifth BCHL Bauer Showcase in Chilliwack.
Ferner was bang on as the Wild – the only team in the BCHL without a regulation loss – brushed back the Snakes 6-3 Saturday night at Prospera Centre.
Vernon (4-2) got into penalty trouble and killed seven of nine Wenatchee powerplays. Viper goalie Cole Demers was outstanding in the period, stopping 12 shots.
“Five-on-five, we were fine,” said Ferner. “Half the game was played on special teams and we weren’t being dirty or malicious. It was frustrating for the players.”
Wenatchee took an early penalty in the second and Steven Jandric poked in a loose puck for his fifth goal.
the season to make it 2-1. D-man Carter Stephenson and Niko Karamanis earned assists.
The Wild converted shortly after a powerplay expired as Dakota Raabe knocked a puck out of mid-air to make it 3-1. Slava Demin delivered a seeing-eye wrister through a maze of bodies to give Wenatchee a 4-1 lead with the man advantage.
The Vipers cut the deficit to 4-3 thanks to a power play goal from Christian Cakebread at 10:59, and Shane Kelly unleashed another seeing-eye shot from the right wing boards at 14:54 that eluded Wild goalie Anthony Yamnitsky, and suddenly despite a dominating performance, the Wild lead was trimmed to one. It was Kelly’s first BCHL snipe.
Stephenson and d-man Chris Jandric set up Cakebread, while Karamanis and Jimmy Lambert pocketed helpers on Kelly’s tally.
The Wild responded just 17 seconds later with a dagger from Burston.
Austin Chavez fired a crisp head-man pass to Matthew Baker, who tossed a quick backhand dish to Dakota Raabe. Raabe, who has been on fire with a goal in four straight games, fired from the right wing and the rebound was collected and buried by Burston.
The Vipers called a timeout late in the period and pulled their Demers for a sixth attacker, but Charlie Combs sniffed the puck out and picked off a cross blue-line pass and raced down to deposit the puck in the abandoned net.
The Wild outshot Vernon 46-21, and Yamnitsky picked up his second win of the year. Demers was stellar with 40 saves. Vernon clicked twice on the power play.
Harris leads the BCHL with 12 points in five games.
Three stars were: 1. Burston. 2. Raabe. 3. Stephenson.
The Vipers-Kings game can be heard at 7:15 p.m. Friday on 107.5 KissFM. Vernon visits the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Saturday night and take on the Clippers in a Sunday matinee in Nanaimo.
The Penticton Vees lead the Interior at 5-1, followed by the defending national champion West Kelowna Warriors at 4-1.