Friday, December 5, 2008

Four Vipers Make All-Star Grade:

This is in todays Morning Star Newspaper:

Four Snakes make all-star grade

By Graeme Corbett - Vernon Morning Star Published:

December 04, 2008 6:00 PM

Oh to be a fly on the dressing room wall of the Interior Conference team when they suit up for the B.C. Hockey League All-star game, Wed., Jan. 14 at Wesbild Centre. The four Vernon Vipers named to the team – defenceman Kyle Bigos, forwards Braden Pimm and Connor Jones, and netminder Andrew Hammond – have spent half a season carefully brewing a gut full of animosity, only to realize they’ll be playing alongside the very players they’re supposed to detest. “It’s going to be kind of weird because there’s a lot of people I hate on that team, so it’ll be really interesting to see what happens in the locker room,” chuckled Bigos, who leads Viper d-men in scoring with 5-18-23, along with a team-leading 74 penalty minutes in 31 games. “It’ll be pretty interesting playing with the Salmon Arm and Penticton guys, because if I find out they’re nice guys, it’s going to be pretty hard to hate them. I’m probably just not going to talk to them.” The Prince George Spruce Kings, who sit sixth in the Interior Conference at 15-12-1-3, lead the Interior with five all-stars, while the Salmon Arm SilverBacks tied Vernon with four. The Trail Smoke Eaters, Westside Warriors and Penticton Vees – who the Vipers face tonight at Wesbild – each have two. The Merritt Centennials and Quesnel Millionaires each have one. At least Bigos and the Interior contingent can re-direct their aggression towards the Coastal squad. “I think everyone’s going to go out and try as hard as they can,” said Bigos, 18. “I’m not sure how the rough stuff’s going to go. You just want to go out there and showcase your talent and show what you can do with other players. “It’s the kind of stuff you dream about when you enter the league, to be known as an all-star that can help your team.” Added Pimm with a reluctant smile: “Maybe we can all come together for one day and be friends.” Jones (9-19-28 in 31 games), who has played in a Kootenay International Junior Hockey League prospects game, was slightly more diplomatic in his assessment. “Most of them are our rivals and we hate playing against them, but I think it’ll be fun to play with them for a change, and see their skill level.” The Viper with the toughest task will undoubtedly be Hammond, who’ll face the league’s elite goal scorers. “I’ve had a couple all-star games in Junior B, and they’re pretty open with lots of scoring and lots of shots and chances,” said Hammond, 20. “I can’t really play my game as far as wondering whether my d-men will be there for me. “It’s kind of just me for myself,” added the 20-year-old White Rock product, laughing. Pimm agreed: “There probably won’t be as much hitting, but the skill level will be pretty high. There’s probably going to be a lot of dangles out there. It’s not a good day to be a goalie, that’s for sure.” For Hammond, the all-star game also represents an opportunity to strut his stuff in front of the college scouts who’ll be in attendance. “It’s a little bit of a showcase for myself and other guys who haven’t committed,” said Hammond, whose 2.57 GAA is third best in the BCHL. “It’s nice to be recognized by coaches around the league, and to see some of my hard work pay off. It’s something that was a goal at the start of the season for me, and it’s nice to achieve that.” With the second best win percentage (21-7-1-2) in the Interior, Vipers’ head coach Mark Ferner earned assistant coaching duties behind the 22-7-1-1 SilverBacks’ head coach Rylan Ferster. Their relationship behind the bench could prove interesting as the Vipers and Backs will have just played four straight games against each other – two before Christmas, and two after. “I’ll let you know after Christmas holidays,” joked Ferner, about what it’ll be like coaching alongside Ferster. “They’re going to be very big games for both teams, so it’s set up pretty good actually.” Regarding the all-star game, Ferner added: “The players that have been picked have deserved it, but there’s also well deserving players out there that didn’t get picked. It’s just unfortunate that you can only have so many.”

Snake Bites: Former Viper Aaron Volpatti scored shorthanded directly off a faceoff at 14:04 in the third period as the Brown Bears bowed 4-3 to the Yale Bulldogs in ECAC Hockey League action. Volpatti, a Revelstoke product, has 2-1-3 and six penalty minutes in eight games in his junior year.

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