Graduating Vipers say goodbye
Written by Brieann Knorr on May 21, 2020
Written by Brieann Knorr on May 21, 2020
With the cancellation of the remainder of the BCHL playoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vernon Vipers have no fewer than nine players not returning to the team for the 2020-21 season.
Marritt spent three seasons with the Vipers. He played in one game for the team in 2016-17 while he was at the Okanagan Hockey Academy. The Kelowna, BC native played his first full season with the Vipers in 2017-18, where he put up 10 points in 54 games. He also played in 10 playoff games and registered two points.
The 2018-19 season saw Marritt increase his point production to 13 goals and 27 assists for 40 points in 54 games. He also played in 21 playoff games as the Vipers went to the BCHL finals and he had eight points.
This past season saw Marritt become the captain of the Vipers. He also had his best offensive season in the BCHL with 47 points in 56 games. He also played in the first round of the playoffs and put up 12 points. After the 2019-20 season, Marritt won the Duncan Wray Memorial Trophy, as the player that best embodies the term “once a Viper always a Viper”. The phrase was a saying of late team owner Duncan Wray.
In June 2019, Marritt announced that he has committed to play NCAA hockey for the University of Northern Michigan this September.
Before playing for Vernon, Sleeth played for the Kanata Lasers of the Central Canada Hockey League for two seasons. In his second season with the Lasers, Sleeth had 72 points in 62 games. He came over to play for Vernon in the 2019-20 season, where he played in 55 games and had 25 points. Sleeth also had two goals in five games in the playoffs, as Vernon beat the Wenatchee Wild in the first round.
Sleeth has committed to play for State University of New York Oswego for the 2020-21 season. SUNY-Oswego is an NCAA III team based in Syracuse, New York.
Fuller spent most of his career playing between the Western Hockey League and the BCHL. He began playing for the Tri-City Americans in the 2015-16 season. During the 2016-17 season, Fuller played for Tri-City and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks teams before playing the rest of the season for the Surrey Eagles. The Coquitlam Express acquired Fuller in the 2017-18 season and he played 38 games.
In the offseason, the Vipers were looking for a veteran leader, so they traded for the 20-year-old defenseman. Fuller found success in Vernon during the 2019-20 season, setting a career-high in points with 24 and games played with 55. He has committed to play for the Trinity Western University Spartans as they make their Canada West and USports debut next season.
Kowalski got to live a childhood dream. The Vernon native played for his hometown team for a season and a half. During the 2018-19 season, the Vipers were looking to add more scoring to their roster, so they traded for Kowalski from West Kelowna. He found instant success with the Vipers, by putting up 43 points in 56 combined regular season and playoff games. He then played in 58 games this past season and had 61 points for a career-high.
Kowalski was a clutch goal scorer. In a game versus Alberni Valley, Kowalski scored a Michigan style goal for the second time in his junior career. He also scored the triple-overtime winner vs Salmon Arm to send Vernon to the second round of the playoffs in the 2018-19 season. Kowalski is committed to play for Queens University for the 2020-21 season.
Caller played in many different junior leagues in his career. He played for the Revelstoke Grizzlies of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League as well as the Saskatoon Blades and his hometown Kamloops Blazers in the WHL. Before playing for Vernon, he played three games for Merritt Centennials as an affiliate player. Caller came to Vernon from Kamloops for the 2019-20 season. He played in 55 games and had 12 points.
Caller is one of five recipients of the Shaw BCHL Scholarship Program. It gives players some financial aid as they continue to a Canadian post-secondary institution. However, he has not committed to any team for the 2020-21 season at this point.
Holt only spent half a season in the BCHL with the Vipers. He played most of his junior career with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. Holt also had the opportunity to play for Team Canada at the World U-17 Championships in 2016. He played in eight games with the Regina Pats this past season before going to Vernon. The Vipers were looking for a player to help boost their offense and Holt delivered, putting up 41 points in 47 games.
His greatest achievements didn’t happen just on the ice but also off of it. Holt was also one of five recipients of the Shaw BCHL Scholarship Program and is committed to the University of Saskatchewan for the upcoming season.
In 2017-18, Sanderson played for the Okotoks Oilers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He played in 50 games and had 26 points. He jumped between the United States Hockey League and the AJHL before joining the Vipers in the 2018- 19 season. In the 28 games he played that season, he put up 14 points.
Sanderson also had 10 points in 17 playoff games as Vernon went all the way to the Fred Page Cup final. During the offseason, Vernon named Sanderson an assistant captain for the 2019-20 season. During the regular season, Sanderson played in 20 games and had four points.
He is committed to playing for Colorado College in the NCAA next season.
Felton had a connection to the Vipers years before he even joined the team. He played on the same high school team as future teammate Logan Cash. Felton jumped between the USHL and his high school team before joining Vernon for the 2019-20 season. As a defenseman, he played in 50 games and had 15 points. In the five games he played in the playoffs this past season, Felton had a single assist.
Felton has committed to play for Bentley University in the NCAA next season.