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FROM VERNON TO THE NHL
Written by Brieann Knorr on June 5, 2020
Brieann has a passion for hockey and sports media. She lives in Vernon and has been a supporter of the Vipers for her entire life. In 2014 she obtained a diploma in broadcasting from Mount Royal University in Calgary. Brieann is looking forward to using her skills to cover the Vipers and junior hockey.
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Thirty-two players dreamed about getting to play in the NHL one day as they were playing for the Vernon Vipers. These are their stories, from the ones who played a single game, to the ones who won a Stanley Cup.
Areshenkoff played for the Vernon Vikings during the 1974-75 season. He played in 65 games and had 86 points. He then spent the final two years of junior playing for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Canada Hockey Leauge.
During his time with Medicine Hat, Areshekoff had 77 goals and 153 points. The Buffalo Sabres liked what they saw in Areshenkoff and drafted him in the second round of the 1977 NHL Draft. He began his pro career playing for the Sabres’ affiliate, the Hershey Bears.
He took a season off before making his NHL debut with the Edmonton Oilers in 1979-80. Areshenkoff played in four games and had zero points. After his debut with the Oilers, he played the rest of the season with the Houston Apollos of the Central Hockey Leauge.
Areshenkoff stepped away from hockey for the next two seasons before coming back for the 1982-83 season to play for the Trail Smoke Eaters of the Western International Hockey League. He retired in 1985.
Areshenkoff spent his post-playing career coaching and working outside of hockey. He passed away in December 2019 after a brief battle with cancer. He was 62 years old.
Bayda played one season with the Vernon Vipers in 1998-99 and had 82 points in 45 games. He also put up 32 points in 14 playoff games as the Vipers won their fourth national title that year.
After playing for the Vipers, Bayda played at the University of North Dakota for three seasons. In his freshman year, he won a national championship with UND. The Carolina Hurricanes selected Bayda in the third round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft and after finishing with UND in 2002, he played three games for the Lowell Lock Monsters of the American Hockey League.
He began the 2002-03 season with Carolina, where he made his NHL debut. Bayda played in 25 games and had 14 points before spending the rest of the season in the AHL. He was back with the Hurricanes to start the 2003-04 season, but the next two seasons were spent in the AHL with Lowell and Manitoba. Bayda was back with Carolina for nine games of the 2006-07 season, but he played most of the year in the AHL.
His last stint in the NHL came in 2008-09, where he played in 70 games and had 12 points. The next season he played for the Pittsburgh Penguins AHL affiliate team. Bayda continued playing hockey in Germany for a few seasons and retired after the 2015-2016 season.
In the 2018-19 season, he coached the Rosetown Red Wings of the Chinook Hockey Leauge.
Drake played one year with the Vernon Lakers in the 1987-88 season. He had 124 points in 47 games and had 30 points in the playoffs as the Lakers went to the Doyle Cup. He then played college hockey for the University of Northern Michigan.
During his third season in college, Drake and his team won the NCAA National Championship. At the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, Drake was selected by the Detroit Red Wings and made his NHL debut in the 1992-93 season with 44 points in 72 games. Drake played 47 games the following season before being sent down to the AHL. He played just one game for the Adirondack Red Wings before being traded to the Winnipeg Jets.
In the 15 games he played for the Jets, he had eight points. He played another season with the Jets before his rights were transferred to the Phoenix Coyotes as a result of the Jets’ relocation. In the four seasons with Arizona, Drake had 152 points. He signed with St. Louis ahead of the 2000-01 season and spent six years there.
For his final two years in St Louis, Drake was named the captain of the team. Heading into the 2007-08 season, Drake wanted one more shot at a Stanley Cup so he signed a deal with the Detroit Red Wings and got to fulfill his dream. The Red Wings won the Stanley Cup, and right after, Drake announced his retirement from hockey.
Drake became the head coach of the Traverse City Pepsi Bantam AA team in Traverse City, Michigan for the 2009-10 season. The following season he was named an assistant coach to the Traverse City North Stars of the North American Hockey League. He was the franchise owner for the North Stars for the next two seasons.
Ewen played 42 games with the Vernon Lakers and had 24 points during the 1982-83 season. The next season he played with the New Westminister Bruins of the Western Hockey League. In 1984, he was drafted 168th overall by the Edmonton Oilers.
He spent the next two seasons with the Bruins before he played in three playoffs games with the Maine Mariners of the AHL. Ewan was traded by the Oilers to the St Louis Blues in the offseason before the start of the 1986-87 season. He made his NHL debut for the Blues that season and played in 23 games. Ewen was then sent down to the Peoria Rivermen of the International Hockey League for the remainder of the season.
Ewen jumped between these two teams for a few seasons before being traded to the Montreal Canadiens during the 1989-90 season. He played three seasons in Montreal and won a Stanley Cup with them in 1993. Ewen was then acquired by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and spent three seasons as an assistant captain with the club. He played in one last season with San Jose in 1996-97 before an injury forced him to retire.
In 2008, Ewen became the assistant coach of the University of St. Louis in the American Collegiate Hockey Association II. He was promoted to head coach for the 2009-10 season and remained head coach for two seasons. He passed away suddenly in 2015.
Genoway played in a single season for the Vipers in 2005-06 and had 49 points in 56 games. He spent the next five seasons playing college hockey for the University of North Dakota. In his final two seasons, he was the captain of the team. After his final season, he signed a one year deal with the Minnesota Wild. Genoway began his professional career with Minnesota’s AHL affiliate the Houston Aeros in 2011. He played in 72 games and had 36 points.
Genoway got his first and only NHL call up towards the end of the 2011-12 season, playing in one game vs. the Phoenix Coyotes and registering a single assist. He signed another one year contract with the Wild for the next season and began the year in the AHL.
Genoway was traded to the Washington Capitals in 2014 and spent the rest of the year with the Hershey Bears. He left the team in the offseason and signed in the Kontinental Hockey League for the 2014-15 season.
Genoway has played in Europe for the last five seasons in the KHL and the Swedish Hockey League. In 2018, he was a member of Team Canada that won a bronze medal at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. For the upcoming season, Genowy will be playing for Avotomobilist Yekaterinburg of the KHL.
Gustafson played three seasons as a goalie with the Vipers from 1996-99. He won a national championship with the team in 1999 and was the BCHL’s top goaltender. He played one year of college hockey for St. Lawernce University in the NCAA and signed a contract with the Minnesota Wild before the start of the 2000-01 season.
Gustafson began his pro career playing for the Jackson Bandits of the ECHL. He played in seven games and had a .930 save percentage. Also that season, he played 24 games in the International Hockey League with the Cleveland Lumberjacks. His last stop in the 2000-01 season was the NHL, where he played four games for the Wild.
Gustafson played his final game in the NHL during the 2001-02 season and spent the rest of the season in the minors. He spent the rest of his professional career between the AHL and the ECHL. Gustafson retired from pro hockey after the 2008-09 season. He was the goalie coach for the Portland Winterhawks from 2014-16.
Hammond played in net for a season and a half with the Vernon Vipers and won a national championship in 2009. He then played in the NCAA with Bowling Green and made his NHL debut with the Ottawa Senators in 2014, playing in one game.
Hammond became a well-known name during the 2014-15 season as he went 12-0-1 in his first 13 games and helped the Sens secure a playoff spot. Hammond spent the next two seasons shuttling between Ottawa and its AHL team in Binghamton. He was traded in 2017 to the Colorado Avalanche and played in four games.
Hammond is currently playing in the Buffalo Sabres organization and spent the bulk of the 2019-20 season with the AHL’s Rochester Americans.
Holland, who was a goaltender, began his hockey career with the Vernon Vikings in 1973-74. He then spent two seasons with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers and played in 78 games. During the 1975 NHL Draft, Holland was selected in the 12th round by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He spent the next three seasons playing in the NAHL-Sr. and the AHL. Holland made his NHL debut during the 1980-81 season for the Hartford Whalers and gave up seven goals. He was sent down to the Whalers’ AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Whalers, for the remainder of the season.
Holland spent the next two seasons with Binghamton before reaching the NHL again. He played in three games with the Detroit Red Wings and had a .804 save percentage. He spent another two seasons with the Adirondack Red Wings before he retired after the 1984-85 season.
Immediately after retiring, Holland was signed as a scout with the Red Wings and began an illustrious career with the franchise. During his time with the Wings, he went from scout to assistant general manager to general manager and executive director of hockey operations. He won three Stanley Cups as GM of the Red Wings and was an assistant GM with Canada as it won Olympic gold medals in 2010 and 2014. Before the 2019-20 season, Holland left the Red Wings to become the GM of the Edmonton Oilers.
Dane Jackson played in one BCHL season with the Vernon Lakers in 1987-88. He played in 49 games and had 54 points and was selected in the third round of the 1988 NHL Draft by the Vancouver Canucks.
Jackson spent the next four years playing college hockey for the University of North Dakota from 1988-92 and made his pro hockey debut with the Canucks’ AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Canucks in 1992-93. Jackson played in 68 games and had 43 points with Hamilton that season.
He made his NHL debut in the 1993-94 NHL season with the Canucks and had six points in 12 games. Jackson played with two more NHL teams throughout his career, the Buffalo Sabres, and the New York Islanders. He retired after the 2002-03 season after spending five years playing in the minors.
Jackson has been a coach at the University of North Dakota for the last 14 seasons and won an NCAA title in 2016.
Johnstone played 50 games in the 1970-71 season with the Vernon Essos and had 94 points. He then played two and a half seasons in the WHL with Medicine Hat and was drafted in 1974 by the New York Rangers.
He made his NHL debut with the Rangers in the 1975-76 season and had three points in 10 games. He became a full-time NHL player starting in 1978-79 and spent five seasons with the Rangers. His best season was 1980-81, where he played in 80 games and had 68 points. He was traded to Detroit during the 1983-84 season and spent the next four seasons between the Red Wings and their AHL affiliate before retiring in 1986.
Johnstone began coaching in 1986 and spent 15 seasons behind the bench in many different leagues. In 1988, he began coaching the Vernon Lakers and won two national championships during his four seasons. His last coaching position was with the Prince George Spruce Kings in 2004.
Connor Jones spent four seasons with the Vernon Vipers from 2006-10 and won two RBC Cups. He then played four years with Quinnipiac University and played in the NCAA Final in 2013. Jones made his NHL debut in late 2017 with the New York Islanders, playing in four games with no points.
Jones spent two more seasons with the Islanders affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers before his contract expired. This past season, he was playing in Switzerland.
King was a goaltender who played in one season with the Vernon Lakers in 1985-86. The Detroit Red Wings liked the play they saw from King, so they drafted him in the 10th round. King then played four seasons at the University of Maine and finished his collegiate carer with a .900 save percentage.
The 1990-91 season saw King play in three different leagues on his way to the NHL. He played in the ECHL and AHL before playing one game for the Red Wings. It was the same situation the following season as King played in just one game for Detroit. He retired in 1993 after spending the season in the minors.
Lindsay played in one season with the Vernon Lakers in 1988-89. He was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in 1991 and played for them in the 1991-92 season. He split the next season between the Nordiques and their AHL affiliate.
Lindsay became a full-time NHLer in the 1994 season as he was playing with the Florida Panthers. He spent five seasons in Florida and made a trip to the Stanley Cup final in 1996. Lindsay was traded to Calgary in 1999 and spent two seasons there. He spent half a season with San Jose after being acquired from Calgary. The rest of Lindsay’s career was spent between a season back in Florida and in Montreal. Lindsay retired in 2007 after spending time in the AHL and Germany.
Marshall played a single season in Vernon with the Lakers in 1988-89. He was selected 9th overall in the first round of the 1989 NHL Draft by the St. Louis Blues. Marshall made his NHL debut in 1992 and played in two games for the Blues. He was back in the NHL in 1995, where he played in one game for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Marshall spent five and a half seasons with the Mighty Ducks before being traded to the Washinton Capitals, where he played in five games.
The following season he played for the Minnesota Wild and spent two and a half seasons there. Marshall also played for the San Jose Sharks and again in Anaheim before retiring in 2008 after spending two years in Germany.
Martini played one season for the Vernon Lakers in 1987-88 and had 35 points in 48 games. He was drafted by the Oilers 162nd overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. Martini played four years of college hockey before joining the Oilers’ AHL affiliate in 1992.
His only NHL experience came in 1994 when he played two games for the Oilers. Martini spent the remainder of his career playing in the minor leagues and Europe. He retired following 2001-02 after two seasons in Italy.
Metropolit had 117 points in 60 games in the one season he played for the Vernon Lakers in 1994-95. He then began a four-year grind of getting to the NHL after going undrafted.
He made his NHL debut in 1999 with the Washington Capitals and played in 15 games before going back to the minors. Metropolit did this for two seasons before latching on with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He then returned to the Capitals and their minor league affiliate.
Metropolit then took three seasons away from the NHL to play overseas and came back for the 2006-07 season with the Atlanta Thrashers. Metropolit then jumped around the NHL for four seasons playing with St Louis, Boston, Philadelphia, and Montreal. He left the NHL after the 2009-10 season and spent the next seven seasons playing over in Europe. He retired in 2017 after a 22-year career.
Moger played 13 games for the Vernon Lakers in 1986-87. After his first season of college hockey in 1988-89, he was drafted 176nd overall by the Vancouver Canucks. Moger made his NHL debut for the Boston Bruins in 1994-95 and spent the next two seasons with Boston and put up 50 points.
He played two seasons for the Los Angeles Kings beginning in 1997 and 1998-99 wound up being his last year in the NHL. He played overseas starting in 2001 and spent five seasons in Europe. Moger retired in 2007 after playing in Finland, Germany, and Italy.
Murdoch played in two seasons with the Vernon Essos and the Vikings from 1972-74. He was drafted sixth overall in 1976 by the New York Rangers and played four seasons in the Big Apple from 1976-80.
Murdoch was traded to the Edmonton Oilers towards the end of the 1979-80 season and had seven points in 10 games. Murdoch played the next season for the Oilers and split time with the Wichita Wind of the CHL. His next NHL action was in 1981-82 when he suited up for the Detroit Red Wings and played in 49 games. He spent the rest of his career playing in the minors and retired in 1986.
He became a scout for the Rangers beginning in 1986 and held that position for three seasons. Murdoch then worked with the Tampa Bay Lightning for seven seasons in various scouting roles with the team. His last hockey job came in 1999 when he was the head coach for the Louisiana IceGators of the ECHL.
Oliver played in two seasons for the Vernon Lakers in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He helped the Lakers win their first-ever national championship in 1990. After his first season with the University of Michigan in 1991, he was drafted in the seventh round by the Edmonton Oilers.
He made his NHL debut in 1995 with the Oilers and had 30 points in 44 games. Oliver spent another season and a half in Edmonton before being traded to the New York Rangers.
After playing a full season in the minors, Oliver played 17 games for the Ottawa Senators in 1998. For the next three seasons, he split his time between the NHL and the IHL. He next played in the NHL in 2003 with the Dallas Stars after a season in Germany. His last appearance in the NHL was in 2005 when Oliver played in three games for the Stars. He retired in 2007 after playing in Sweden.
Oliver is currently an assistant coach with the New York Rangers. He has held many coaching and management jobs in various leagues since his retirement.
Parent played in two games for the Vernon Lakers in 1992. He spent the next few seasons playing for a number of junior and minor pro teams before being signed by the St. Louis Blues in 1997. He played in one game for the Blues in 1998 and spent the rest of the season in the IHL.
The following season Parent played in 10 games for St. Louis and had an SV% of .886. He spent the remainder of the season in the AHL with the Worcester IceCats. Parent was traded to the Tampa Bay during the 1999-2000 season and played in 14 games for the Lightning. He then signed as a free agent in the offseason with the Pittsburgh Penguins and played in seven games. After playing in the minors, Parent spent the next five seasons playing in Germany before retiring in 2005.
He was the goaltending coach for the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the Southern Professional Hockey League in 2016. Parent was the associate head coach of the Shreveport Mudbugs of the NAHL this past season.
Pelley was a member of the Vernon Vipers for half a season after he was acquired from the Prince George Spruce Kings. He played in 19 games and had 18 points. He then played four years of college hockey at Ohio State University and signed as a free agent with the New Jersey Devils in 2006.
Pelley played in nine games with the Devils to start 2006-07 and spent the remainder of the season in the AHL with the Devils’ affiliate. Pelley began the following season with the Devils and had six points in 58 games before being sent down to the AHL. In the 2008-09 season, Pelley played in the AHL and had 38 points in 75 games.
For the 2009-10 season, Pelley became a full-time NHLer and spent the next two and a half years in the league. He was traded to the Anaheim Ducks in 2011 and played 45 games. He would spend the next years playing for various teams around the AHL before deciding to go overseas. Pelley has spent the last two seasons playing in Romania.
Poeschek spent one season with the Vernon Lakers in 1982-83 and had 14 points in 54 games. In 1985, while playing for the Kamloops Blazers, Poesheck was selected in the 12th round by the New York Rangers.
From 1987-90, Poeschek split time between the Rangers and their AHL team. Poescheck was then signed by the Winnipeg Jets, in 1990-91, and played in four games. He would continue the season with the Jets’ farm team.
Starting in 1993, Poeschek would spend the next four seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning and put up 23 points. Beginning in 1997, he played another two and a half seasons with the St. Louis Blues. He retired in 2001 after spending a season and a half in the AHL.
Purinton played with the Vernon Lakers for a full season in 1993-94. A year later, he was drafted 117th by the New York Rangers. Purinton made his pro debut in 1997 with the Charlotte Checkers of the ECHL. He also played with the Hartford Wolfpack in the AHL during the 1997-98 season.
He made his NHL debut in the 1999-2000 season as he played one game with the Rangers. Purinton spent the next three and a half seasons in the NHL with the Rangers and posted 20 points over that span. He played out the rest of his career in the ECHL and AHL before retiring in 2008.
Since his retirement, he was the head coach of the Cowichan Valley Capitals for three seasons. He was also the head coach of the Kerry Park Islanders of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.
Ryan played in nine games with the Vernon Lakers in 1993 after being acquired from the Quesnel Millionaires. After a dominant season with the Tri-City Americans, he was drafted in the first round, 8th overall by the Montreal Canadians in 1995. He made his NHL debut in 1996 and played in three games.
Ryan was back in the NHL in 1997-98, where he played in four games. His last stint in the league was in 1998-99, where he played in just a single game. He suffered a bad ankle injury in 2001, which left him unable to play at a high level of hockey. Since his injury, he’s played in minor professional leagues as well as senior men’s hockey in the Maritimes.
Santorelli played in one season with the Vipers in 2003-04. After a productive season which saw Santorelli have 96 points, the Nashville Predators drafted him in the sixth round and he began his pro career with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals in 2007.
Santorelli made his NHL debut during the 2008-09 season and played in seven games. He continued to split time between the Predators and the Admirals the following season. He was traded to Florida for the 2010-11 season and had his best offensive season in the NHL, by putting up 41 points in 82 games. He played in Florida during the shortened lockout season before being placed on waivers and was claimed by Winnipeg.
After finishing the 2012-13 season with the Jets, Santorelli played for Vancouver, Toronto, Anaheim, and back in Nashville over the next three years. In 2016-17, Santorelli played in Switzerland and retired at the end of the season due to injuries. This past season he was the head coach for the Burnaby Winter Club U18 Prep team.
Sawyer played just 12 games for the Vernon Lakers in 1991-92 before jumping to the WHL the following season. After playing three seasons with the Spokane Chiefs, Sawyer signed with the St. Louis Blues in 1995. The 1995-96 season was a busy one for Sawyer as it saw him moved to four different cities between two leagues.
He made his NHL debut with the Blues before being sent down to their farm team, the Worcester IceCats. He then was traded to Boston, where he split time between the Bruins and their farm team in Providence. His next NHL action was in the 1999-2000 season, where he was played three games with the Phoenix Coyotes and was also sent down to their minor league team.
The following season he played nine games for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and also played for their AHL farm team. In the final two seasons of his career, he was a full-time NHLer with the Mighty Ducks before retiring at the end of the 2002-03 season
He had one coaching job with the Spokane Chiefs in the mid-to-late 2010s. Sawyer spent the 2019-20 season as a TV analyst for the Winnipeg Jets. He caused some controversy this past January when he shared the story of a hazing incident that occurred while he was an assistant coach for Spokane.
Spring was apart of the Centennial Cup-winning Lakers team of 1990-91. He then spent four seasons playing college hockey with the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.
He made his NHL debut in 1997, where he played eight games with the Tampa Bay Lightning and also spent time with the AHL’s Adirondack Red Wings. Spring played in another eight games with the Lightning in 1998-99. The rest of his career was played with minor league teams and in Europe. He retired in 2004.
Strachan played in one season with the Vipers in 2002-03 and had 28 points in 56 games. He played four years of college hockey with Ohio State University before turning pro with the Albany River Rats of the AHL in 2006-07.
For most of his hockey career, Strachan split time between an NHL team and their AHL affiliate. For three seasons, starting in 2008, Strachan played for both the St. Louis Blues and the Peoria Rivermen. The following two seasons, he played for the Florida Panthers and their AHL affiliate. In the 2013-2014 season, Strachan played for the Washington Capitals and their affiliate team.
The only season he didn’t play for an affiliate team was in 2014-15 when he played 46 games with the Buffalo Sabres. His last NHL experience came a season later when he played two games for the Minnesota Wild. He retired in 2018 after spending a season in the UK with Wales.
Volpatti played three seasons with the Vipers from 2003-06 and had 37 points during that time. He then played four years of NCAA hockey at Brown University. He signed a contract with the Vancouver Canucks in 2010 and made his pro debut with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL.
Volpatti played 15 games with the Canucks in 2010-11 and had two points, but spent the rest of the season with the Moose. In the two following seasons, he played with the Canucks in minor roles as he dealt with injuries and spent some time being a healthy scratch.
He was claimed off waivers by the Washington Capitals during the 2012-13 season where he played in 60 games over three seasons. He retired in 2015 after playing with the Capitals and the AHL’s Hershey Bears.
Watkins played one season with the Vipers in 2004-05. He then played NCAA hockey with the University of North Dakota for four seasons. He went pro directly after his NCAA career with the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL and the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL.
His first full professional season came in 2010-11 with the Rampage where he had 34 points in 64 games. He played in his only NHL game with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2011-12. He spent the remainder of his pro career playing for minor league teams and in Europe. Watkins spent the last season with the Craik Warriors in the Wheatlans Senior Hockey Leauge.
Zaba played in net in one season for the Vipers in 2002-03 and had a goals-against-average of 2.21. He spent the next four years with Colorado College playing NCAA hockey. He went pro in 2007, playing for both the Charlotte Checkers and Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL.
The following season he was playing with the Hartford Wolfpack, where he had a .920 save percentage. His only NHL game was with the New York Rangers, where he came in relief of Henrik Lundqvist versus the Montreal Canadians. He spent the remainder of his career playing in the minor leagues and spent five seasons playing in Europe. Zaba retired in 2015.
He has spent the last three seasons as the goaltending coach for the Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League.
Zalewski played in two seasons with the Vipers and went all the way to an RBC Cup championship game in 2011. After his junior career ended in 2012, Zalewski played two seasons with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institue in the NCAA.
Immediately after his college career ended, he played two games with the Vancouver Canucks and had an assist. He spent the 2014-15 AHL season with the Utica Comets, playing in 55 games and having 12 points. He also got to play in 23 playoff games as the Comets went all the way to the Calder Cup final.
The following season he played in three games for the Canucks and notched an assist. His last call up with the Canucks was in the 2016-17 season, where he played in one game. After ending the season in Utica, Zalewski signed in Europe and has been playing there ever since. He spent this past season playing in Latvia.