Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Clippers Name Former Vernon Laker Naylor New VP/Director Of Hockey Operations:

The Nanaimo Clippers have named former Vernon Lakers forward Darren Naylor new VP/Director of Hockey Operations.

Naylor is in his third season as head coach with the Clippers. Naylor replaced former Vernon Vipers head coach/gm Mike Vandekamp as the new head coach/gm of the Nanaimo Clippers December 21st 2017. Naylor retired from hockey in 1996 was a scout or coaching since 2005. Naylor was the head coach/gm of the PIJHL Delta Ice Hawks before joining the Clippers.

Naylor played parts of one season in Vernon with the 1989-90 Vernon Lakers. In 20 games with the Lakers Naylor collected (8-goals-27-assists-35-points).

Darren Naylor's Player Profile:

This was posted on the Clippers website:

Naylor named Vice President

December 23, 2019 

Midseason is not always the best time to make changes in a junior A hockey organization but with the year-end quickly approaching, the Nanaimo Clippers have shuffled their front office staff increasing the responsibility for both Tali Campbell and Daren Naylor. Tali Campbell has become the GM/Director of Business Operations whereas Darren Naylor is now the VP/Head Coach/Director of Hockey Operations.

Wes Mussio, owner of the Nanaimo Clippers noted, “My original plan from day 1 was to find a person who can manage the day to day business side of not only the Clippers team but also the other side sporting ventures like the Nanaimo Timbermen Senior B Lacrosse team. A year ago, I took on a much larger role as the operations were not heading in the right direction. Since then, a few staffing changes, most notably Tali Campbell, has lessened my workload. Darren Naylor has done a fabulous job as well in taking on added managerial responsibilities and definitely has improved the hockey product on the ice. Therefore, I made a personal decision to step away from the day-to-day operations and leave it in the capable hands of Tali and Darren.”

As the VP, Darren Naylor will now be in charge of more of the overall business decisions not only with the Nanaimo Clippers but with other sports programs run by the Mussio Sporting Group. As Darren Naylor is very much enjoying coaching the Nanaimo Clippers, this office shuffle will not change much when it comes to the actual hockey operations. These promotions simply add more higher-level management duties to both Tali Campbell and Darren Naylor’s day-to-day activities.

Darren Naylor noted; “With the move to VP, it will allow me the time needed to focus on the hockey operations alleviating the demanding day-to-day business operations. Moving forward with an older team this season and an expected high turn-over rate at the end of the season, there is a lot of work to be done on the hockey side of things to ensure the Clippers are consistently at the top of the BCHL. My true passion is building teams and along with Wes Mussio, after a couple seasons, I believe we have established that on the ice as well as off the ice. Along with Tali’s new position solidifying the front office and the recent promotions and extensions on the hockey side given to Associate Coach Colin Birkas, Assistant/ Video coach Ken McPhalen and Athletic Therapist Gaelle Bergeron, the Clippers’ off ice team is solid. Obviously it’s a nice promotion and like the players, it is nice to be rewarded for the work that’s been done to date.”

BCHL News & Trades:

I found these press releases off team websites, twitter accounts, blogs or online. All Vipers news-trades are posted on this blog as soon as released-announced.

BCHL News & Trades:

Chong Min Lee Out For The Season:

The Prince George Spruce Kings will be without forward Chong Min Lee for the rest of the season. The 20-year-old forward will require season ending shoulder surgery. “Unfortunately, after an MRI and consultation with an orthopaedic surgeon, it has been determined that Chong requires season ending shoulder surgery” says GM Mike Hawes. “It is important that he gets the surgery soon as the recovery time is 5 to 6 months and he needs to be healed and ready to play next fall as a freshman at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Chong and his family are currently arranging and planning for the surgery to occur back in South Korea as soon as possible”. Lee finishes with 62 points in 134 regular season games and 22 points in 53 playoff games as a Prince George Spruce King.  He also had 5 points in 6 games at the National Jr A Championship last season. Chong Mine Lee finishes with 24 points in 24 games this season. “Chong has been with us for three years and has been a terrific player and person as a Spruce King. We wish him a successful surgery and a speedy recovery so that he can be ready to represent the Spruce Kings well when he moves on to the next chapter playing NCAA Division 1 Hockey next season” added Hawes

Head Returns To Warriors:

The West Kelowna Warriors Junior ‘A’ Hockey Club announce Monday that D Wyatt Head (’99) will be returning to the team’s roster. Head, 20, spent the past two seasons with the West Kelowna Warriors where he tallied 71 points in 136 total games played with the Warriors. During the 2018-19 season, Head finished tied for 6th in defensive scoring with 42 points. The Kelowna, B.C. native spent the beginning of this season with Quinnipiac Bobcats(NCAA) but has decided to return to the Warriors. “I really enjoyed my time at Quinnipiac”, stated Head. “It was an unbelievable group of guys but it just wasn’t the right fit for me hockey wise so I’ve decided to return to West Kelowna as I feel it’s the best choice for my hockey future. I’m excited to get things going again on the ice”. The Warriors would like to welcome back Wyatt to the City of West Kelowna and the Warriors organization.

Cowichan Capitals Release Bridgewater & Verbicky:

Cowichan Valley reduced its roster by two players on Saturday, releasing forwards Andy Bridgewater and Kobe Verbicky. Bridgewater, 19, had 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in 22 games with the Capitals this season while Verbicky, 16, had one goal in 14 games. Bridgewater had 33 points (10 goals, 23 assists) in 51 games for the AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs last season. He became a free agent this past summer when the Mustangs franchise went on hiatus. Verbicky spent 2018-19 with the North Island Silvertips of the BC Major Midget League where he posted 35 points (12 goals, 23 assists) in 35 games. He also got into two WHL games with the Edmonton Oil Kings.

30 Years of Chiefs Hockey: The Move To Langley And A Return To The Wack:

For the start of the 2006-07 season, the Chilliwack Chiefs packed up their bags and headed down the road to the George Preston Arena to become the Langley Chiefs. They arrived with the same owners, head coach and players. The only modification to the jersey was the removal of Chilliwack from the tomahawk shoulder patch. Langley finished its first year with a 29-27-1-3 record, fifth in the Coastal Division. In the playoffs, the Chiefs faced the Burnaby Express and lost the first round series 4-3. In the fall of 2007, the Chiefs looked to improve on their first season with the additions of future NHLer Derek Grant, plus Milos Gordic and the return of tough guy Necco Belanger from the NAHL. They wound up with a 33-21-0-6 record for second in the Coastal Conference. In the post-season, Langley played Victoria in the conference quarterfinals and won the series 4-2. The Chiefs advanced to play the first place Nanaimo Clippers to see which team would move on to the league final, but fell in six games. For 2008-09, the Chiefs unveiled a new logo to represent the City of Langley. The new logo removed the “C” from the headdress and replaced it with an “L” with war paint stripes above it. The new jersey incorporated one of the team’s original colors – blue with the black and yellow. Langley finished the year with a 30-25-2-3 record and fourth in the Coastal Division. In the playoffs, the Chiefs lost in the Coastal Conference quarterfinals to the Surrey Eagles 3-1 in the best-of-five series. 2009-10 saw the team move to the newly built Langley Events Centre and the Chiefs continued to have successful regular seasons in Langley by amassing a 33-22-2-3 record. In the post-season, the Chiefs beat the Surrey Eagles 4-2 in the first round, but was swept by Powell River in the conference quarterfinals. In 2010-11, the Chiefs celebrated 20 years. In the first two decades, they only missed the playoffs once and won three Fred Page Cup Championships, one Doyle Cup, numerous division titles and two trips to the National Junior A Championship. The Chiefs added to their history by acquiring former stick boy Darnell Dyck from Trail. They came third in the Coastal Division with a 31-21-1-7 record. In the playoffs, the Chiefs would sweep Alberni Valley 4-0 in the first round, but ended their 20th season with a six-game quarterfinal loss to long-time rival Surrey. The 2011 off season was a very interesting one. The owners of the WHL’s Chilliwack Bruins sold the team and moved them to Victoria, opening the door for the BCHL to move back in. The Chiefs Development Group sold the existing team to the Henderson family who would keep it in Langley. In the terms of the deal, the Chiefs name and history were to stay with the Chiefs Development Group as it bought the struggling Quesnel Millionaires and relocated them to Chilliwack. When the dust settled, the Chiefs were back in the ‘Wack. With the return of the Chiefs to Chilliwack, the 2011-12 roster consisted of mostly players coming over from the Millionaires. With the approval coming in late May 2011, the team was running on a very short off season. They returned with a brand new color scheme of crimson, gold and white. Their jerseys were  inspired by Denver University as former Chiefs Greg Keith and Gabe Gauthier won national titles with the Pioneers. The team was placed in the Interior Division for the year and finished fourth with a 33-22-2-3 record, backstopped by goalie Mitch Gillam. In the playoffs, the Chiefs played the record-breaking and stacked Penticton Vees losing to them 4-2 in the quarterfinals. The Chiefs moved to the Mainland Division for 2012-13 along with the Prince George Spruce Kings. The team had Gillam back in goal, Jaret Babych, the son of former NHLer Dave Babych, and the additions of top scorer Austin Plevy and tough guy Tanner Cochrane. Their record was 33-21-1-1 and they finished second in the Mainland Division. In the playoffs, the Chiefs opened up against Prince George and beat the Spruce Kings 3-2 in the best-of-five. Chilliwack played Surrey in a best-of-five Coastal Conference quarterfinal series and was swept 3-0. In 2013-14, the Chiefs dropped off significantly, like they did 21 years previously, finishing with the second worse record in the league at 14-37-2-5. In the off-season, the Chiefs let go legendary head coach Harvey Smyl and hired Jason Tatarnic from the Woodstock Slammers. The bright side to the down year was the upstart of Jordan Kawaguchi’s junior career. The Chiefs of 2014-15 bounced back from missing the playoffs for the first time in 20 years by winning the Mainland Division with a 37-17-1-3-10 record. In the Playoffs, the Chiefs dumped Coquitlam in the first round 4-1 and Prince George in the Mainland Division finals 4-0. Chilliwack advanced to the BCHL round robin with Nanaimo and Penticton. The Chiefs didn’t win a game, losing to Nanaimo 7-2 and Penticton twice – 4-3 in overtime and 5-2 – ending their hopes of getting to the Fred Page Cup Finals. In 2015-16, the Chiefs looked to continue their early success under Tatarnic. With the addition of Wenatchee Wild from the NAHL, the Chiefs had another strong team to contend with for the Mainland crown. Chilliwack won its second straight division title with a 38-13-3-4 record and were led by captain Kawaguchi, goalie Aidan Pelino and current Detroit Red Wings defenceman Dennis Cholowski. In the playoffs, the Chiefs got past Coquitlam 4-0 in the first round and Wenatchee 4-1 in the second round. The win put Chilliwack back in the BCHL round robin for the second straight year, where they faced the West Kelowna Warriors and the Nanaimo Clippers. The three teams split all of the games, which set up a tiebreaker. The Chiefs were the first team through, beating West Kelowna 4-3 to advance to the Fred Page Cup. Chilliwack played the Warriors in the finals and lost in six games to the eventual National Junior A champions. Chilliwack looked to get over the hump in 2016-17 and win its fourth Fred Page Cup. The team finished second in the Mainland Division to the regular season champion Wenatchee Wild with a 41-11-0-6 record. In the playoffs, the Chiefs beat Langley 4-2 in the first round and swept the Wild 4-0 in the Mainland Division final. In the Coastal Conference final, the Chiefs faced Victoria. Oddly, the Grizzlies forgot their jerseys for game one and had to wear Chilliwack minor hockey jerseys. The Chiefs beat Victoria 4-2 to advance to the Fred Page Cup for the second consecutive year. Chilliwack fell in seven games against Penticton, but still advanced to the Western Canada Cup because the Vees were hosting. The Chiefs played the Brooks Bandits, Portage Terriers and the Battleford North Stars in the tournament. The Chiefs finished second in the round robin portion and played for the Western Canada Cup against the Brooks Bandits. The Chiefs lost 6-1 to the Bandits, but with the page playoff format, the Chiefs had another opportunity to advance to the National Junior A Championship. The Chiefs faced host Penticton in the second play in-game and fell 3-2. 2017-18 was a big year for the Chiefs as they hosted the National Junior A Championship. With most of the team returning from the year previous, the Chiefs added a couple pieces to prep for a run to the title. Before the season, the Chiefs announced the retirement of mascot Chief Wannawin and introduced a new ascot – Belle the Cow. The Chiefs record was 26-26-3-3 and they finished fourth in the Mainland Division. In the playoffs, Chilliwack played the division champion Prince George Spruce Kings and lost in seven games. A week before the city of Chilliwack and the Chilliwack Chiefs were set to host four of the best teams in junior A hockey in Canada and the United States, they fired Head Coach Jason Tatarnic. In his place, they appointed assistant coach and former Chiefs captain Brian Maloney as head coach and general manager. In the championship tournament, the Chiefs met the Wenatchee Wild, Wellington Dukes, Ottawa Jr. Senators and Steinbach Pistons. Chilliwack opened the Tournament against its BCHL rival from Wenatchee and the Wild took the opener 2-1 in overtime. The Chiefs played Ottawa next and beat the Sens 4-3 in extra time. Wellington was the next opponent for the Chiefs and Daniel Chenard shutout the Dukes 2-0 and Chilliwack was into the semifinals for the third time in team history.  The final round robin game for the Chiefs was against the Steinbach Pistons and the home squad came out on top 4-1 with Mathieu Caron getting the win in his only action of the tournament. In the semifinals, history was not on the Chiefs’ side as they failed to get past this stage in the franchise’s previous two appearances. Chilliwack beat Ottawa 3-2 and advanced to the final against Wellington. In the final game, the Chiefs went down just 1:30 into the game but tied it on a goal from Kaden Pickering early in the second period. The Dukes took the lead again with a minute left in the second on the power play. It keyed up a dramatic comeback in the third for the Chiefs, starting with the tying goal by Will Calverley at 4:35. Chilliwack took the lead four minutes later on a goal by Corey Andonovski. The Chiefs sealed the game on a goal by Tommy Lee at the 12:20 mark of the third. The win gave Chilliwack its first ever National Championship and exercised the demons of the past. With the National Championship behind them, the Chiefs got right back to work in 2018-19 to try and defend their title. The team had eight players return from the previous year, including the goaltender tandem of Chenard and Caron. The Chiefs finished the season with the best record in the BCHL at 42-15-1 and faced a first-round match up with the Langley Rivermen. In the playoffs, Chilliwack went down 3-0 to the Rivermen and stormed back to win four straight and the series. The Chiefs played Prince George in the next round and were swept 4-0, ending the hopes of back-to-back national titles. That is a look at the 30 years of Chiefs hockey. I hope you enjoyed all three parts. I would also like to dedicate the series to the late Jacob Bestebroer, he was the inspiration for these articles as he was well known for his knowledge of the history of the Chilliwack Chiefs.

SOEC Deficit Tops $1.48M

While the South Okanagan Events Centre may be the “pride and joy” of the City of Penticton, it’s the Trade and Convention Centre that generates the most economic activity for the community. That was repeated several times Tuesday by Dean Clarke, general manager of the entire SOEC campus, during annual budget discussions at city hall. Clarke was under fire from some city councillors, ostensibly upset the Trade and Convention Centre is projected to lose $390,000 next year.  “I struggle with the results that we are seeing,” said Coun. Katie Robinson, suggesting they would be better off shutting the whole convention centre down. She called the lack of large conventions at PTCC, six next year, "bitterly disappointing." Mayor John Vassilaki singled out the Convention Centre’s marketing budget, which expects to spend $291,000 to capture $813,000 in revenue as something that would never fly in the private sector. But the Trade and Convention Centre isn’t the private sector, responded Clarke, who pointed to an estimated $11 million in annual economic impact the facility creates for the community.  For comparison, the same study pegged the much-more-expensive-to-run SOEC arena’s economic impact at $9.5 million. Thirty-thousand hotel room nights alone were booked last year as a result of activities at the PTCC.  “It’s not the profitability when it comes to that facility… the reality is it’s about economic impact,” Clarke said. “It would be a catastrophe to shut that place down.” Spending $390,000 to generate $11 million in economic impact is a trade any local government would make "every day," he added. While there are just six large conventions booked for next year, the facility handles up to 170 smaller meetings or events like Fest of Ale each year. Clarke said they have been hamstrung by a lack of solid hotel rooms in the community, noting they lost out on hosting the massive Union of B.C. Municipalities Convention two years ago because of a room shortage.  He suggested he’s already met with city council in private to pitch an attached hotel on the premise, something that would be a huge help to attracting conventions.  Clarke and his employer, Spectra Venue Management — which manages the SOEC, PTCC, Memorial Arena and OHS Training Centre — presented council with a budget projecting a complex-wide loss $1.48 million in 2020, up from $1.43 million last year.  Broken down by building, next year the SOEC arena is projected to lose $1.1 million, the PTCC lose $392,000, Memorial Arena fall short $100,000 and OHS Training Centre profit $106,000.  Clarke, however, said the accounting department places larger losses than reality at the feet of the SOEC arena, at the benefit of the other facilities, because it is so expensive to run.  A rising minimum wage and employer health tax was blamed for increasing costs. City council unanimously approved in principle Spectra's proposed budget. 

Bulldogs Acquire Grouchy:

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs are proud to announce the acquisition of Forward Matthew Grouchy from the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL. The 20 year old product of Labrador City, Newfoundland collected 12 points in 21 games with the Olympiques this season. Last season Grouchy had 47 points in 61 regular season games with the Quebec Ramparts. The 6 foot 1, 171-pound right winger is expected to add some leadership and skill to the Bulldogs forward group.  “This is a good acquisition for our group” said Bulldogs head coach and general manager Joe Martin. “Matthew adds experience and leadership to our group and he will help our scoring depth for the stretch drive.” Grouchy was originally drafted in the 2015 QMJHL Entry Draft by the Charlottetown Islanders in the 6th round at pick number 101.  In 207 career regular season games in the QMJHL, Grouchy has 121 points including 46 goals.  Grouchy is expected to make his Bulldogs debut on Friday night against the Cowichan Capitals and his Dawg Pound debut on Saturday vs. Chilliwack for the club’s annual Teddy Bear Toss.

Clippers Name Campbell New General Manager:

Tali Campbell joined the Nanaimo Clippers Junior A Hockey team late December 2018 as the Marketing Manager and Director of Business Operations for the hockey club. After a year at the hockey club, Campbell has received a much deserved promotion to General Manager and Director of Business Operations. Wes Mussio, owner of the Clippers, remarked: “Late last year the business operations were struggling as we were not only seeing a lot of red ink but also, we become further disengaged from the community. The organizations was definitely heading in the wrong direction. I reached out to Tali to see if he was interested in coming back home to Nanaimo and fortunately for the Clippers, he accepted the challenge. Tali has since turned the operations around financially not to mention greatly increasing our footprint in the community. This was definitely one of my top moves as the Clippers’ owner bring Campbell back to Nanaimo.” Penny Stainton-Mussio, co-owner of the Clippers, explained “It is nice to have someone hard working from the local community step in and run the business operations. We walk around the rink and hear nothing but great things about Tali from the fans and staff. The game day operations are seamless and Wes and I are able to step back from the business somewhat and become true fans.” With the Mussio Sports Group moving into operating the Nanaimo Timbermen Senior B Lacrosse Team and running an ever expanding spring hockey program, Tali Campbell takes over as the general manager of Mussio Sports Group and the Nanaimo Clippers. Hockey Operations will remain with Darren Naylor who also received a much deserved promotion to Vice-President of Mussio Sports Group and the Nanaimo Clippers, with a focus on expanding the business.

Spruce Kings Honour Mohawks:

On January 17th, it’s Mohawks Night at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena, as the Spruce Kings take on the Langley Rivermen, and honour those who wore the Mohawks jersey.The calendar will say 2020, but the Prince George Spruce Kings will throw it back to the 1970’s for one night only, and become the Prince George Mohawks. The Mohawks Alumni will be in attendance, and a first intermission ceremony will recognize the accomplishments of 5 Coy Cups (Senior AA Provincial Champions) and 1 Hardy Cup (Senior AA National Champions) that were won in 8 years between 1970 and 1978.

Penticton Vees Add Niedermayer To Roster:

Josh Niedermayer has signed with the Penticton Vees as an affiliate player and the 15-year-old made his debut in the BCHL on Friday against Powell River. His brother Jackson is a first year forward with the Vees this season. Josh is a defenceman for the Okanagan Hockey Academy Red Midget Prep team. He has 6 goals and 9 assists in 20 games with OHA so far in 2019-20.

Cardinal Commits To Surrey Eagles For 2020-21 Season:

The Surrey Eagles are proud to announce that forward Holden Cardinal has committed to the team for the 2020-21 season. The 16 year old forward from Surrey, BC will look to be an offensive driver next season, and is the 2nd new player to commit to the team for next season, following defenseman Matt Connor who committed earlier this year. This season, Holden has been playing for the Delta Hockey Academy Wild of the CSSHL, and has 11 goals and 17 points in 18 games this season. Cardinal has also appeared in 3 games for the Eagles as an affiliated player, going scoreless in the contests, but showing the speed and skill which made him such an intriguing prospect. Last year as a 15 year old, Cardinal had 32 points (11 goals, 21 assists) in 31 games playing with the Delta Hockey Academy’s U15 elite squad. It was all smiles for Holden when he signed the paperwork for next season, admitting “I’m excited! Next season, [I’ll] come here and play, looking forward to it.” Cardinal expects to be “…hard working, fun to watch and a lot of energy in the game.” However, in saying all that Holden understands it won’t be easy to adjust to the BCHL. Holden admits he’ll need to adjust to certain aspects of the game. “Definitely the pace, the physicality. It’s going to be a lot different from midget hockey. It’ll be a bit of a jump but I’ll be able to adjust to it.” Finally, Holden admits there’s a lot of excitement being able to play for his hometown team. “Very exciting. All my friends and family live close, and will be able to support me.” Cam Keith was also very excited about landing the young Surrey native, explaining “Yea, [Holden] was a kid that probably could’ve made our team this year, but we thought it was better for him to play with Delta, play those big minutes in a big role. He’s a kid who’ll flourish on the olympic ice, extremely offensive, and he’s a kid who we’re expecting to jump in right away and make an impact.” Cam’s quick scouting report for Eagles fans describes Holden as “High pace, he’s a playmaker but he knows how to put the puck in the back of the net. For his lack of size (5’6, 132lb), you wouldn’t know it because he goes to the hard areas. A kid who doesn’t mind when the physicality gets going, he doesn’t shy away from it. If you want to compare him to a NHL player, he’s got a Johnny Gaudreau feel to him.” Welcome to the flock Holden!

Monday, December 30, 2019

Vernon Vipers Alumni Prokop-Calgary Hitmen On Sportsnet:

Former Vernon Vipers forward Josh Prokop & the Calgary Hitmen host the Edmonton Oil Kings tonight. Tonight's game is live on Sportsnet at 6pm

Prokop is in his second season with the Hitmen. In 32 games this season Prokop has (7-goals-10-assists-17-points).

Prokop was in his second season with the Vipers, left the team September 26th 2018 for the Western Hockey League. Prokop was drafted by the Swift Current Broncos had his rights traded to Calgary November 25th 2017. In 54 games with the Vipers Prokop collected (22-goals-19-assists-41-points)

Josh Prokop's Player Profile:


This is posted on the Western Hockey League website:

Central Division in the spotlight as Oil Kings & Hitmen clash on Sportsnet

December 30, 2019

by Robert Murray

Monday’s matchup on Sportsnet will come at a perfect time for junior hockey fans from coast-to-coast.

The eighth and final meeting of the season between the Calgary Hitmen and Edmonton Oil Kings will take place in the spotlight of Canadian Hockey League action on Sportsnet Monday night.

If you feel like it’s early for the regular season series between the division rivals to end, you’re not alone. However, it was just back in the 2012-13 WHL Regular Season that the season series also concluded before the calendars turned over so while it feels out of order, it’s not uncommon for either team to experience.

While the Oil Kings are hoping to find more of the same success they experienced in 2019 in the new year, the Calgary Hitmen will be searching for a spark and have the perfect opportunity to do it in the national spotlight.

Edmonton is certified hot at the moment with a 9-0-1-0 record in their previous 10 games. They’ve been able to match up well on both sides of the puck, scoring the fourth-most goals in the WHL and conceding the eighth-fewest goals against in the 22-team league. As is the case at certain points in the year, many of the teams ahead of the Oil Kings in the goals allowed department still have as many as five games to make up on Edmonton to get on their level.

For the Hitmen, Monday’s matchup exists in the short term and long term of the mindset for their season. In the here and now, taking down the WHL’s top-ranked team in the standings would be a fantastic shot in the arm to aid a stretch that’s seen them go 3-5-2-0. One of those three wins did come against the Oil Kings, spoiling the latter’s Teddy Bear Toss game back on December 7.

In the long term, the divisional standings throughout the WHL are starting to form gaps, with the Hitmen entrenched in the first wild card spot at the moment. Any repositioning by them in the wild card or in the Oil Kings’ status at the top of the conference could provide the perfect storm for a matchup in the opening round of the 2020 WHL Playoffs. Fresh memories of a four-game sweep at the hands of the Oil Kings still linger from last spring and the chance to make new memories in their 25th season would be perfect.

That being said, recent history has favoured the Oil Kings in the regular season. Entering Monday’s game, the Oil Kings have a 5-0-2-0 record from this year’s season series. Over the past 16 games, they’re a combined 13-0-3-0. Whether the Hitmen want to take it as a good or bad fact, all seven of the games in this year’s season series have been decided by one or two goals.

Individually, the Hitmen’s spotlight has belonged to Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Riley Stotts in the month of December. His 12 points (6G-6A) lead the Hitmen and his 35 points have placed him into the team scoring lead. Forward Orca Wiesblatt, captain and Ottawa Senators prospect Mark Kastelic, and Vancouver Canucks prospect Carson Focht have also been known to take over offensively and will be looked to contribute Monday night.

Countering for the Oil Kings is a lineup that features three double-digit scorers in the month of December in forwards Riley Sawchuk, Jake Neighbours, and Josh Williams. However, it’s their defensive play that’s been the subject of the spotlight more recently with the emergence of Sebastian Cossa as the team’s starting goaltender. His 6-0-1-0 record in December along with a tidy 1.55 goals-against average and a 0.948 save percentage have the Oil Kings where they are.

Tune in for puck drop on Monday, December 30 (7:00 p.m. MT) from coast-to-coast as the Hitmen host the Oil Kings at the Scotiabank Saddledome in CHL on Sportsnet action to see where greatness begins!

Edmonton Oil Kings

Record: 24-6-5-2, 55 points, 1st in Central Division
Head coach: Brad Lauer
Leading scorers: C Riley Sawchuk (14-31—45); LW Jake Neighbours (12-27—39); RW Josh Williams (15-22—37)
Leading goaltender: Sebastian Cossa (21 GP, 14-2-1-1, 2.08 GAA, 0.926 SV%, 2 SO)
Power play: 8th — 21.2 per cent
Penalty kill:  3rd – 87.0 per cent
Injuries/Unavailable: LW Jesse Seppala (upper body, two-to-three weeks), D Jacson Alexander (upper body, three-to-four weeks) (as of December 17, 2019)

Calgary Hitmen

Record: 16-11-4-1, 37 points, 4th in Central Division
Head coach: Steve Hamilton
Leading scorers: C Riley Stotts (16-19—35); C Mark Kastelic (18-14–32); LW Orca Wiesblatt (11-20—31)
Leading goaltender: Jack McNaughton (19 GP, 11-3-1-1, 3.18 GAA, 0.879 SV%)
Power play: 11th — 20.2 per cent
Penalty kill:  12th – 78.9 per cent
Injuries/Unavailable: RW Hunter Campbell (lower body, week-to-week, C Mark Kastelic (lower body, day-to-day), D Egor Zamula (World Juniors)

Season series

Sept. 27 – Edmonton 3 at Calgary 4 (OT)
Oct. 12 – Calgary 4 at Edmonton 6
Nov. 3 – Edmonton 3 at Calgary 2
Nov. 9 – Calgary 2 at Edmonton 4
Nov. 30 – Calgary 4 at Edmonton 5
Dec. 6 – Edmonton 4 at Calgary 2
Dec. 7 – Calgary 3 at Edmonton 2 (OT)
Dec. 30 – Edmonton at Calgary*

*Indicates CHL on Sportsnet broadcast

Spokane Chiefs Name Ex Viper Gore Goaltending Consultant:

The Western Hockey League Spokane Chiefs have named former Vernon Vipers goaltender Lucas Gore new Goaltending Consultant.

Gore started the season as goaltending coach with the Kamloops Minor Hockey Association. Gore was hired as goaltending coach May 16 2019.

After four seasons with the University of Regina (2011-2015) Gore signed with the ECHL Stockton Thunder on March 5th 2015. In 7 games with the Thunder Gore went 2-4-1 with a 4.37 GAA. Gore along with the Thunder moved to Adirondack becoming the Adirondack Thunder for the start of the 2015-16 season. Gore was protected by the Adirondack Thunder but never played a single game after the 2014-15 season. 

Gore retired from hockey and was the goaltending coach with the 2016-17 Prince George Spruce Kings. Gore spent the past three seasons as a goaltending consultant with the Western Hockey League Kamloops Blazers before joining Kamloops minor hockey in May.

Gore played one season in Vernon (2007-08). In 27 games with the Vipers Gore went 14-8-1 with a 3.31 GAA before joining the Western Hockey League Chilliwack Bruins the following season.

Lucas Gores Player Profile:


This was posted on the Chiefs website:

Lucas Gore and Jesse Plewis Hired as Goaltending Consultants for 2019-20 Season 

August 1, 2019

Hockey Staff 

The Spokane Chiefs have announced that Lucas Gore and Jesse Plewis have been hired as the team’s Goaltending Consultants. The two will alternate spending time with the team throughout the course of the season.

“We’re excited to add Lucas and Jesse to assist with our goaltending this year,” Chiefs General Manager Scott Carter said. “With their additions, our goalies and goalie prospects will receive more undivided attention than in years past and they’ll also be able to assist in scouting goalies for the WHL Draft.”

Gore joins the Chiefs after spending three seasons as a Goaltending Consultant on the Kamloops Blazers. The Kamloops, BC native has also served as the Goaltending Coach for the Prince George Spruce Kings of the BCHL and the Thompson Blazers of the BCMML. Gore’s amateur playing career spanned eight seasons, including playing 141 games for the Chilliwack Bruins of the WHL from 2007-2011 and 70 games for the University of Regina from 2011-2015.

Plewis comes to Spokane after spending last season as a Goaltending Consultant for the Portland Winterhawks. He has also worked as the Goaltending Coach of the Penticton Vees of the BCHL since 2016 and has served as the Penticton Head Goaltending Instructor for all Okanogan Hockey Group Summer Camps and Programs.

“We always preach having a good attitude and work ethic each day you’re on the ice,” the duo mentioned in a recently-released statement. “We want to have the best goalie we can have but we’re also making better men and holding them accountable. Our goal is to get our goalies mentally and physically ready to be the best version of themselves, when it matters most, at the end of the season.”

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Vernon 4 Salmon Arm 2

I was born and raised in Vernon, BC and been watching/following Junior hockey in Vernon most of my life. I have had season tickets since 1990 and only missed four Vipers home games since 2004. In the past thirty years I have only missed 45 home games. I'm not a sports journalist, writer, reporter or work for the Vernon Vipers. I do not get paid for this blog and do this blog on my own personal time. I started and created this blog in November 2008 and have over 1.7 million viewers. For anyone who couldn't attend or watch today's Vipers game, here are my thought's and views from today's game. You may agree or disagree but we all have our own opinion on the game. I try to be professional and unbiased and give a fare game recap from both sides. Thank you for visiting my blog.

I was at today's Vipers-Silverbacks game as Vernon defeated Salmon Arm 4-2 in front of 1,131 fans at the Shaw Centre.

Starting Goaltenders:

Vernon: James Porter Jr
Salmon Arm: Ethan Langenegger

1st Period: The hometown Silverbacks got the early jump on the Vipers. Salmon Arm with a ton of pressure and zone time early had the early jump and momentum. About three minutes in, a shot from the top of the circle forced James Porter Jr into making a big stop early. A few minutes later James Porter Jr was forced to make a difficult save off a shot from the high slot that handcuffed the Vipers netminder as the Silverbacks couldn't bury the rebound. The Apes had several good looks but had trouble hitting the net. Just before the halfway mark, Christian Felton took a high stick and was forced to leave the game and didn't return for the remainder of the period. The Snakes would get a four minute double minor on the games first power play. Seconds into the man advantage, Ethan Langenegger come across the blue paint to rob a Viper forward at the side of the crease, before having to make a second save off a shot from in close. Two big stops on the PK before the Gorillas forecheck went to work. Salmon Arm's forwards poured on the pressure, had the Vipers hemmed deep inside there own end, killing valuable time off the clock. SA was able to kill off the first two minutes of the double minor, before Vernon had some good pressure and looks down low. Once again Ethan Langenegger had to be sharp, made another big stop before Cameron MacDonald buried the loose puck, giving Vernon a 1-0 lead at 12:38 Connor Marritt and Dawson Holt collected the helpers. Ethan Langenegger and the Backs were not happy with the goal as they figured MacDonald and the Snakes interfered with the Salmon Arm goaltender. Langenegger and a Salmon Arm defenceman went straight to the officials but the goal stood. Salmon Arm was outshooting Vernon 11-3 at the midway point, after the goal shots were now 12-10 in favour of the Silverbacks. Vernon's lead didn't last as fourty seconds later. On a turnover inside there own blueline, Noah Wakeford setup Silverbacks captain Akito Hirose who's shot from well out beat James Porter Jr, tying the game 1-1 at 13:18 Wakeford and Devan Newhook drew the assists. Less then two minutes later, the Snakes responded with a good push back shift. Connor Marritt and Jo Jo Tanaka-Campbell with a hard working shift down low, did all the work to keep the puck alive spotted Cameron MacDonald in the high slot, ripped a quick shot past Ethan Langenegger, giving Vernon a 2-1 lead at 14:53 Tanaka-Campbell picked up the lone assist. With just less then five minutes remaining the Vipers setup Matt Kowalski on an odd man rush. The Vernon product tried sending a pass through the slot to Dawson Holt but a strong defensive play by an Apes defender broke up the attack/play. With about three and a half minutes remaining, Lucas Breault's shot from the slot would be stopped by former Kelowna Rockets goaltender James Porter Jr. The Vernon goaltender thought he had the puck covered but the whistle wasn't blown and a Salmon Arm player went behind Porter Jr tried banging home the loose puck on a wild scramble in the crease. Somehow the Backs couldn't hit the open cage as Porter Jr and the Vipers catch a huge break as the game remained 2-1. The Gorillas pressed hard down the stretch, pushing for the game tying goal. Hunter Sansbury's heavy shot from well out, looked to handcuff James Porter Jr who was forced to make a difficult save with about a minute and a half remaining. It was 2-1 Vernon after 20 minutes of play. The Silverbacks jumped on Vernon off the opening faceoff and dominated the play for the first half as it was all SA. The Apes carried the play, had a ton of pressure/zone time and a lot of puck possession. Salmon Arm had several good looks/opportunities, also missed the net on several occasions. The game/momentum changed when the Vipers went to work with the games first and only power play of the 1st period. The Vipers created and generated some chances, were outshot and outplayed to this point, managed to open the scoring and gain some life. The Snakes played much better in the second half, but the S'Backs didn't go away and finished the opening frame strong, pushing hard for the game tying goal in the final minutes. Overall the Silverbacks were the better of the two teams. Salmon Arm outshot Vernon 18-12.

2nd Period: Christian Felton returned to the game after being high sticked halfway through the 1st period. Felton returned with a full face shield and was now wearing jersey #3 with no name bar. The Snakes with a strong start, jumped on the S'Backs early before the Vipers would get an early PP inside the opening minute. The Snakes only needed five seconds to grab a two goal lead. Connor Sleeth won the draw, setup Trey Taylor at the point, before going to the front of the net. Taylor's shot from the blueline beat Silverbacks starting goaltender Ethan Langenegger, giving Vernon a 3-1 lead at 1:01 Sleeth drew the only assist. Langenegger couldn't get set and may have been slightly screened with Connor Sleeth standing in front. Just over a minute later, Salmon Arm would eventually get there first man advantage of the afternoon. Vipers starting goaltender James Porter Jr had to be sharp, was forced to make several big stops while on the PK as Vernon killed off the minor. Minutes later the Snakes went back to work with the man advantage. The Vipers setup Dawson Holt at the circle who's shot beat Ethan Langenegger may have grazed the far post. Vernon unable to really generate much on the PP as SA killed off the minor. Just as the penalty expired, the Backs went back to the power play as both teams were playing musical chairs in the penalty box. Once again James Porter Jr had to be sharp, was forced into making some big stops, one off the mask. The Vipers sprung Dawson Holt for the breakaway, couldn't solve Ethan Langenegger five hole. How big was this save? Well shortly after just as the power play expired, Akito Hirose waited and waited before sending Daniel Rybarik a cross crease backdoor pass. Rybarik would be stopped by James Porter Jr before burying the rebound, cutting Vernon's lead to 3-2 at 11:15 Hirose & Hunter Sansbury collected the helpers. Daniel Rybarik was Landon Fuller's man. Fuller left Rybarik unattended, which resulted in the goal. This goal brought the crowd back into the hockey game, which got the rowdy fans in Section I going as they started chanting "Porter" "Porter" "Porter" Three minutes later Salmon Arm went back to work on the power play and everyone in the Shaw Centre thought the Backs had tied the game. James Porter Jr come across crease to rob Lucas Breault at the side of the goal, making a highlight reel stop, keeping this a one goal game. SA had several good looks from in close range, but fired high and over the goal or wide of the net, missing on several missed opportunities. The Vipers would get some solid goaltending from James Porter Jr and kill off the penalty. With about two minutes left in the 2nd period Dawson Holt sprung Matt Kowalski in for the partial breakaway, but Ethan Langenegger made the stop before having to make a second attempt at the second shot on a goal mouth scramble before tempers heated up with some pushing and shoving in the Gorillas crease. Ben Helgeson and Holden Knights would both get sent to the sin bin. It was 3-2 Vernon after 40 minutes of play. This was a very good entertaining period with chances at both ends of the rink. Both teams were matched fairly even as the play was fairly even for a lot of the middle frame. Both goaltenders were solid between the pipes. Shots were 16-12 for Salmon Arm.

3rd Period: Dawson Holt and Matt Kowalski on an odd man rush just over a minute into the final frame couldn't put Vernon ahead by two after a big stop from Ethan Langenegger. SA with a strong push back shift on the following rush. Coalson Wolford with a quick shot from the circle forced James Porter Jr into making a big pad save. Two good quality chances at both ends of the rink, early into the 3rd period. Shortly after Colby Feist setup Brett Fudger on an odd man rush but Fudger had to really stretch to try and connect on the pass didn't get off a quality shot. Shortly after the Apes would get the only PP of the period. A strong PK from Vernon ragged a lot of time off the clock, while James Porter Jr made a couple of stops as the Snakes killed off the minor. Just before the midway mark, Matt Kowalski and Dawson Holt on an odd man rush couldn't solve Ethan Langenegger. Shortly after Lucas Breault would be denied by James Porter Jr. The play really starting to open up as both teams were going back and fourth with chances and opportunities at both ends of the rink. Shortly after the halfway mark, William Poirier found his way behind the Vernon defence, looked to have James Porter Jr beat, Porter Jr was down and out tried sliding across the blue paint, managed to only get his goal stick in the way as Poirier couldn't corral the puck, missed an open cage on a missed opportunity to tie the game. With about five minutes remaining, Ben Sanderson driving to the goal hard, would be stopped down low as bodies went crashing into Ethan Langenegger. Shortly after Akito Hirose's point shot found it's way through traffic but somehow managed to stay out on a big stop from James Porter Jr. Salmon Arm slowly started to pull away towards the end of the period, were attacking strong, pouring on the pressure. The Snakes were hemmed in there own end at times but managed to keep SA to the outside and limit there time and space. Jason McKee and the Vipers would call a late timeout before the Silverbacks would also call a timeout inside the final two minutes. Inside the final two minutes, Lucas Breault with a quick release would be denied by James Porter Jr down low on a quality chance for SA. The Backs would get Ethan Langenegger to the bench with about 1:35 remaining for the extra attacker. The Apes with a strong push, had the Snakes hemmed in there own end but Salmon Arm was unable to get pucks to the net. Vernon had troubles clearing the zone, would eventually get the puck into the neutral zone twice inside the final minute of play. The Gorillas had troubles getting through the neutral zone, before turning over the puck, that allowed Dawson Holt to hit the open cage, giving Vernon a 4-2 lead at 19:56 Holt's goal was unassisted. This basically put the game away as fans started making there way to the exits. The Vipers would hang on for the 4-2 victory. This was a wild and very exciting 3rd period. Both teams went back and fourth for most of the final twenty minutes. Both teams with some quality opportunities. As the period went along, the play really opened up. Both goaltenders were solid in the final frame. This period could have gone either way, as both tenders made some timely saves. The Silverbacks started a big push with about four minutes remaining but couldn't force overtime. SA had some good looks, either missed the goal or couldn't solve James Porter Jr. The Viper defence was very strong down the stretch, especially in the final minutes, kept the S'Backs to the outside, took away the shooting lanes and limited Salmon Arm from getting pucks to the net. The Vipers come up with a few big shot blocks late, hung on for a big win in a big divisional game. Shots were 11-11.

Top Player's: (Vernon)

The line of Connor Marritt (1 assist), Ryan Shostak & Cameron MacDonald (2 goals) Was very good up and down the ice for Vernon. These three kids really stepped up there play this afternoon and lead the charge the entire game. I thought Vipers forward/captain Connor Marritt was very good along the wall and down low. Won several battles along the wall or in and around the net, come out with the puck. MacDonald scored twice was always involved in the play, while Shostak returned to the Vipers lineup last night, played very well today.

The line of Dawson Holt (1 goal & 1 assist), Matt Kowalski & Ben Helgeson were also very good. Holt had one of his best games as a Viper. I was really impressed with his hard work, compete level and determination today. He was hard to knock off the puck, hard to contain and defend against. At times he powered his way through a few Salmon Arm defenders. Kowalski & Holt seemed to feed off one another all afternoon, had very good chemistry today. These two were generating and creating a ton of opportunities and odd man rushes.

Ben Sanderson I thought was another veteran forward that stepped up his game today and played very well in the win. Really used his upper body strength and power to get by the Silverbacks defence and win the battles going to the goal.

Connor Sleeth (1 assist) I thought played pretty good and had a fairly good game this afternoon.

James Porter Jr (43 saves) Was very solid between the pipes for the Vipers today. The former Western Hockey League netminder was sharp, confident and seeing pucks all day. Had some luck with him today on a few saves. Was one of the key players on the Viper PK. Porter Jr's numbers don't show it, but the kid has been very good since arriving from the Kelowna Rockets in November. In the games he's lost, his team hasn't given him any offence.

Game Thought's: (Vernon)

The Snakes didn't get off to a good start, were outplayed early and often. The Vipers played most of the first half in there own end, had to rely on James Porter Jr to keep them in the contest early. Vernon was outshot 11-4 at one point in the 1st period, managed to open the scoring and played much better in the second half of that opening frame. Overall I really liked the Vipers game today, I thought they improved defensively, didn't cough up or turnover the puck in there own end as much as last night and in past games. I counted only two turnovers in there own end today. Other then the first ten minutes, I thought Vernon played with a lot more consistency, energy and compete level. The Snakes were generating & creating lots of chances but also played well defensively. I thought all four lines contributed and played well. The power play was generating some opportunities with some sustained pressure and the PK was also good. After getting off to a slow start and being outplayed for the first half of the opening period, how big was Cameron MacDonald's power play goal to open the scoring? Vernon played with the lead most of the afternoon. The Snakes did catch some breaks and get the bounces go there way, were lucky on a few saves from Porter Jr and loose pucks in the crease. The Vipers haven't looked or been the same team since almost blowing a 7-2 lead in Merritt December 8th, played one of there better and more consistent games in a while. After losing 5-2 to the Silverbacks in a big home & home series, it was nice to see the Snakes get some revenge and get within two points of 3rd place Salmon Arm. A fair size of Viper fans made the trip to Salmon Arm this afternoon. The Vipers with a quick turn around, only get two days off until hosting the Penticton Vees New Years day. The Vipers snapped there three game losing streak, have lost three of there last five and won six of there last ten games. With the win Vernon improves to 20-15-1-1 move into 4th in the Interior division are now tied in points with Wenatchee, are two points back of 3rd place Salmon Arm and eight points back of 2nd place Trail.

Top Player's: (Vernon)

The line of Lucas Breault, Noah Wakeford (1 assist) & Daniel Rybarik (1 goal) Was the top unit for the S'Backs today. This line like last night, was dangerous, hard to contain and defend against. All three created/generated opportunities today. This line is quick, move the puck up ice in a hurry and seem to always know where each other are. Gave the Vipers troubles often.

William Poirier I thought played with a ton of jump, had some spark in his game.

Akito Hirose (1 goal & 1 assist) The Silverbacks captain played very well in Salmon Arm's 5-2 win in Vernon Saturday, had another strong game today. Really sees and reads the ice well, very patient with the puck. Has soft hands and plays well at both ends of the rink.

Zach Gabruch Played well on the Backs blueline.

Ethan Langenegger (31 saves) Played well last night, had another strong game between the pipes. Was tested more often today and forced to make a few more saves today over the win Friday in Vernon. Both goaltenders were very good. This kid is big, covers a lot of the net, doesn't give up many if any second or third opportunities. Wasn't pleased with Vernon's first goal, thought he was interfered with, made a large save off Dawson Holt on a 2nd period shorthanded breakaway.

Game Thought's: (Salmon Arm)

The hometown Silverbacks come out with a ton of jump/energy, jumped on the Vipers. It was all SA for most of the first half but the Apes couldn't find the back of the net. A lot like what happened last night. The Vipers had the early jump on Salmon Arm, but only managed one goal in a period where they were the better team. The Gorillas were all over Vernon, even outshooting the Snakes 11-4 at one point, found themselves down 1-0. If SA would have been able to open the scoring and maybe get a goal or two early, this may have been a different hockey game. Instead the Vipers survive the first ten minutes, manage to open the scoring and then take the lead into the dressing room. The S'Backs battled and competed just like the Vipers, didn't get the puck luck or bounces go there way. James Porter Jr got lucky on a few saves. I noticed Salmon Arm missed the net a lot today, five on five and on the PP. The amount of good looks the Silverbacks had, but shot high or wide of the goal was amazing. The Silverbacks had some very good chances ran into a hot goaltender today. Today's game could have easily gone the other way and Salmon Arm could have come out on top with the victory. Both goaltenders made some timely saves. I really liked the chatter from the Apes bench. Salmon Arm has a very lively bench, a lot of chatter and talking going on with the players, coaches and officials. You could hear the Salmon Arm bench giving it to the officials often, through out the game. Rumors going around the Shaw Centre today that the Silverbacks have fired Head Coach & GM Scotty Atkinson. Atkinson wasn't behind the bench in both games this weekend and a sign behind the end glass appeared in the 3rd period, saying "Where's Scotty?" No official press release from the Silverbacks. A great turnout for a Sunday afternoon game, I was very surprised to see the fans show up and come out for today's game. Most teams have trouble drawing well on Sunday afternoons, but a crowd of over 1,000 people were out today. The loss snapped the Silverbacks two game winning streak. With the loss Salmon Arm falls to 21-15-1-1 remain in 3rd place are two points ahead of Vernon & Wenatchee and six points back of 2nd place Trail.



Jack Glen
Nicholas Kent (Injured)
Elan Bar-Lev-Wise
Max Palaga (Injured-Out for the season)

Salmon Arm:

Kieran Ruscheinski
Simon Tassy
Jarrod Semchuk
Brett Balas

Energy Player of the Game:

William Poirier

Three Star's:

1st Star: James Porter Jr (43 saves)
2nd Star: Akito Hirose (1 goal & 1 assist)
3rd Star: Cameron MacDonald (2 goals)

I have picked a victory song for the Vernon Vipers this season. After every Vipers win this year, I will play Tarzan Boy by Baltimora


Boxscore-Game Summary,


Game Report,


Text Boxscore,


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Here are some photo's I took before and during today's Vipers-Silverbacks game.