Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Viper Trio Earn NCAA Scholarships:
Viper trio earn NCAA scholarships
by Kevin Mitchell - Vernon Morning Star
Nov 2, 2016
Win a B.C. Hockey League or national championship whenever you can. Leave town a better human being. Earn a scholarship to a NCAA university.
The Vernon Vipers have done a formidable job at doing all of the above with their players for decades, transforming hundreds of teenagers into remarkable men. Three more have just joined the Division 1 scholarship list.
Prince George brothers Steven and Chris Jandric have signed letters of intent with the University of Alaska Nanooks, while Philadelphia’s Michael Ufberg has committed to the Princeton University Tigers in New Jersey.
Chris Jandric, 18, and Ufberg, 19, are both defencemen who will spend next season in Vernon. Steven Jandric, 19, is a second-year winger who will assess next spring if he waits another year before joining the Nanooks.
“We’re happy for all three players,” said Viper head coach/GM Mark Ferner. “Our job is to get them ready for the college level no matter when they leave us. Both schools are getting some very good players and I’m sure all three guys will attest to their teammates being a big help in getting these scholarships.”
Steven, a speedy 5-foot-11, 180-pounder, has six goals and five assists in 18 games, while Chris has picked up 10 assists in 17 contests. Ufberg has 2-10-12.
At Alaska, the brothers will join a Nanooks team that currently features seven BCHL alums in Brandon Morley, Marcus Basara, Chad Staley, Ross Heidt, Jordan Burns, Jesse Jenks and Kylar Hope. The other current BCHL player committed to Alaska is the Jandric’s teammate, forward Jimmy Lambert.
“He (Steven) has the opportunity to be a very good college player,” said Ferner. “He has all the tools: he can skate and he can shoot and he’s offensive minded.”
On Chris, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound rookie showing sweet strides, Ferner said: He’s an offensive-minded guy who defends as hard as he can. He’s not going to run you over, but he has a good stick and good feet.”
Ufberg will head to the Ivy League Tigers likely as a powerplay specialist. The 5-foot-9, 185-pounder often patrols the point when the Vipers are on the PP.
“He’s much like Chris, an offensive-minded guy who helps us on the powerplay. We want him to leave here a good defender as well.”
Meanwhile, the Vipers were waiting Tuesday afternoon to hear from the league on a possible suspension to hard-hitting captain Riley Brandt after a 3-1 win over the Merritt Centennials before 1,590 fans Saturday night at Kal Tire Place.
Ferner felt the hit on Michael Van Unen was clean and fair. The near official did not make a call following the check, but the back referee gave Brandt a major following a huddle.
Brandt also received a major for fighting Merritt’s Tyrell Buckley after the hit.
Van Unen laid motionless for a few moments before eventually skating off under his own power. Merritt head coach Joe Martin told the Merritt Herald it was one of the dirtiest hits he’d seen.
“He charges from the blue line, leaves his feet, hits a guy who’s in a vulnerable position, while the puck is already way out of the zone,” said Martin. “The Vipers bench cheered the hit, laughed at our guy. It’s the most disrespectful thing I’ve gone through this season. I’m going to do what I can to make sure that kid gets suspended for as long as possible. I used to like Riley Brandt. Not anymore. He’s a dirty hockey player.”
Winger Keith Anderson scored twice, giving him three in four games since joining the Vipers from the Western League’s Victoria Royals.
Anderson registered his second BCHL snipe at 6:22 of the second period and added an empty netter with 13 seconds left in regulation.
“I’m getting more comfortable as every day goes on,” said Anderson, a towering 19-year-old Oregon product. “We’re happy with the win tonight; the key is to not get too high or too low.”
Anderson noted that the entire team beared down on a late penalty kill with some courageous shot blocks.
Niko Karamanis converted on a shorthanded breakaway early in the third period after swiping a loose puck at the Vernon blueline. The Vipers were killing the Brandt major. Karamanis has six goals on the season,.
“I would say we dominated tonight,” said Karamanis, a Courtenay native. “We let them hang around there a little too long and you run into penalty trouble and you never expect to score shorthanded. That was my second of the year and it felt good, and it ends up being the winner. Even before that shorthanded goal, both Shane (Kelly) and Chris had two huge blocks and Jimmy (Lambert) managed to poke that puck away. You can probably go down the lineup and I’d say we had close to 20 blocks.”
Cade Gleekel replied for the Cents on a powerplay with 63 seconds to play and Viper d-man Connor Clouston off for tripping.
Vernon outshot Merritt 39-20 with Ty Taylor taking the win and a stellar Jacob Berger the loss.
Forward Jimmy Lambert was the Fortis Energy Player of the Game for the Vipers, who improved to 9-7-2, good for second place in the Interior. The Cents dropped to fourth spot at 9-8-1.
The Vipers begin a three-game road trek Friday night in Duncan versus the Cowichan Valley Capitals. Vernon takes on the Grizzlies Saturday night in Victoria and battle the Eagles in a Sunday matinee in Surrey.