Friday, May 31, 2019

Departing Heroes – Volume 2

This was posted on the Vipers website:

Departing Heroes – Volume 2 – By Don Klepp

May 27, 2019
Vernon, BC:  We continue a showcase of 20 year olds as written by Don Klepp.  Volume 2 features Michael Young and Carver Watson.

Young In Name Only

Michael Young is one of the most mature Vipers ever. Coach Ferner was impressed when the 18-year-old defenceman from Medford, Massachusetts essentially interviewed the coach, with probing questions about the character of the team’s returning players for 2017-18.

In retrospect, Mike is delighted with the character displayed by the Vipers over the past two years. He says, “The overall character of each team was a little different, but I can’t praise the team character of both groups enough. Character is very important to me and it’s obviously important to Mark Ferner. It showed in the way we came together after Christmas this year. We overcame adversity by sticking together and digging deep.”

He adds that “the fans seem to sense that we had a group of hard working players who deeply cared and they really got behind us. It meant a lot to see those huge turnouts for the playoff games.”

Mike played some of his very best hockey in the 2019 playoffs, rock solid in his own end and scoring some important goals among the six that he notched in 21 playoff games. Developing that offensive ability was one of the reasons he chose two years of Junior hockey instead of going straight to college. He explains, “At the Rivers prep school, we had an excellent coach, Shawn MacEachern, who taught a tightly structured system. He’s a very knowledgeable and effective coach but I wanted to add some creativity to my game and I needed to get better at reading a wide variety of on-ice situations. D-zone coverage is my main strength but with the Vipers I also learned when and how to jump into the play.”

Mike neglects to mention that his booming slap shot is also an asset. Most of his 25 Viper goals in two years were scored on blasts from the point.

Another reason for coming to Canada to play hockey was to experience a somewhat different culture. And he loved it in Vernon. “Everybody seems to know everybody else here, and people are so welcoming. That includes my billets, Paul and Cathy Davies. Whoever gets them next year has won the lottery! I will definitely return to visit Vernon in the future.”

When Mike was younger, he committed to study and play at the University of Connecticut, but later he de-committed and chose to go to Yale University. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Connecticut,” he says, “but I got thinking about my academic goals and about a career after hockey and I decided that Yale would be a better fit for my career goals.”

This is indeed a mature “young” man.

Carver’s Journey

In his five years of Jr. “A” hockey, Carver Watson has played for five different teams, finishing with the Vipers. “My brother Cooper said I would love it in Vernon and he was right!” says the native of Appleton, Wisconsin.

As a promising 16-year-old, Carver played 58 games for the Madison Capitols of the USHL. His performance earned him a scholarship to Michigan Tech, the alma mater of his brothers Cliff and Cooper. Then a back injury slowed his progress the following year and Madison traded him to the USHL’s Tri-City Storm. He played just 23 games in 2015-16, but he was able to play 37 games the next season in Chilliwack, where he was a mainstay on the Chiefs’ power play.

Carver suited up for 53 games for the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers in 2017-18, but the chance to play a more offensive style of play brought him back to the BCHL. He chose the Vipers. He says that back home everybody knows about the Vipers, more so than other Canadian Jr. “A” teams. “When Cooper played here, he lobbied Coach Ferner to trade for me. That didn’t happen, but when I was about to leave Green Bay, I texted Jagger to ask if the Vipers could use a D-man and he replied that the Vipers would indeed like me to come.”

Unfortunately, the injury bug visited him again this year, limiting him to just 26 regular season games. Plagued with a lingering back injury and a rib injury suffered in the weight room in the off-season, he missed time early in the season. Then a broken collar bone in early November sidelined him for two months. When he returned in February, he was a little rusty, but he rebounded for a strong showing in the playoffs when he played every game, showing the speed, skill, and decisiveness that had drawn Michigan Tech’s attention in the first place.

Carver explains that “The playoffs were like the beginning of the season for me, a fresh start, and a way to prove myself to a new college after I de-committed from Michigan Tech.” He adds that “bouncing from team to team and dealing with injuries can play havoc with your confidence but I credit Coach Ferner with helping me understand how to regain confidence.”

Three college final exams kept Carver in Vernon until the very end of April, after which he was slated to visit Mercyhurst College. Since that visit, he has accepted a college opportunity at Mercyhurst for next year. His hockey journey continues.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Watson Commits To Mercyhurst University:

This was posted on the Vipers website:

Watson Commits to Mercyhurst

May 10, 2019 

Vernon, BC:   The Vernon Vipers are pleased to announce that Carver Watson has committed to Mercyhurst University for next season.

“I can’t wait to go to Mercyhurst University.  I’m so thankful for the Vernon Vipers for the experience over the last year and what it taught me,” says Watson.

The Appleton, Wisconsin product put up 9 points in an injury shortened campaign, but was instrumental in his teams run to the Fred Page Cup Final.

Mercyhurst University is a NCAA Div 1 program that plays out of the AHA Conference.

Congratulations to Carver and his family on the commitment and wish him all the best going forward.

For more information please call the Vipers Office at 250-542-6022

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Ken Holland, The Pride Of Vernon:

Here is an article on former Vernon Vikings goaltender Ken Holland.

Holland was inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame Thursday at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Holland was recently named General Manager and President of Hockey Operations of the Edmonton Oilers, had spent the past thirty three seasons with the Detroit Red Wings. 

Holland started as a scout with the 1985-86 Red Wings worked his way up to the team's General Manager/Ex. VP of hockey Operations.

Holland played one season in Vernon with the 1973-74 Vernon Vikings. 

Holland was drafted 188th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in Round 12 of the 1975 NHL draft. Holland played in just four games with the Hartford Whalers & Detroit Red Wings before retiring from hockey and joining the Red Wings as a scout.

Ken Holland's Player Profile:

This was in the Kelowna Daily Courier Newspaper:

OPINION: Ken Holland, the pride of Vernon 


May 14, 2019

Compared with Americans, Canadians do a lousy job at honouring our own hometown heroes.

We don’t brag enough.

The city of Vernon should be incredibly proud of Ken Holland, who will be aptly recognized next week by the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in Vancouver. (That hall honours athletes and builders from all sports — Holland is already in the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame.)

In an excellent interview with The Courier’s Dave Trifunov, Holland reflected on his years of minor hockey in Vernon as a kid. His father was active in coaching.

“Everything revolved in our house on hockey in the winter and baseball in the summer,” he said.

A goalie with the Vernon Vikings (that’s a blast from the past) of what would become the BCHL, he left the valley to play in Medicine Hat and then had a brief stint in the NHL where he appeared in four games (0-3-1, 4.95 GAA) — three in Detroit (who were awful in those days). one in Hartford.

When his playing career ended, he joined the ranks of the NHL, first as a scout and later as general manager of the Red Wings. He built three Stanley Cup championship teams with great players — Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Brendan Shanahan and Scotty Bowman behind the bench. More impressive, perhaps, was a 25-year uninterrupted streak of never missing the playoffs.

Sports Illustrated named him No. 2 overall (behind Scott Pioli of the NFL's New England Patriots) in a ranking of the top GMs of the 2000s.

His latest chapter began this month when he was named GM of the Edmonton Oilers, arguably the valley’s second-favourite NHL team.

Success has followed Holland everywhere he’s gone and it obviously won’t be long before Oilers fans can again party like it’s 1984.

Holland has ties in Vernon as his mother still lives there.

On behalf of valley hockey fans, congratulations to Ken Holland on this long overdue recognition.

The valley is proud of you.

James Miller is managing editor of The Daily Courier.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Departing Heroes – Volume 1

This is posted on the Vipers website:

Departing Heroes – Volume 1 – By Don Klepp


May 24, 2019 

Vernon, BC:   Leadership is a prominent word when it comes to any form of team sport or activity.  In the Vernon Vipers case this is an opportunity to reflect on the 20 year old leaders of this past season.  These articles are written by a long time member of the organization Don Klepp.  Volume 1 features Vipers captain Jagger Williamson and Jesse Lansdell.

Jaggers All Grown Up

Three weeks shy of his sixteenth birthday when he made the Vipers, Jagger Williamson was 5’7″ and less than 150 pounds. He says, “I was a little guy playing against all those monsters, trying to survive and contribute where I could.”

He’s come a long way in his five-year Viper career, tying Garth Gartner for most regular season games played (233) and assuming a prominent  role as first line centre and the Viper captain. Looking back on those five years that “have passed in a flash,” he says “It’s been a dream come true. Coming from Lumby, I was crazy about the Vipers and of course I wanted to play for them. I was one of those kids with a snow cone, screaming through the glass. Now they’re screaming for me. Amazing!”

His playing style has evolved as he has gained strength and experience. “As a 20-year-old, 40 pounds heavier and influenced by my wild man buddy, Riley Brandt, I got to really enjoy the physical side of the game. Now I enjoy going in the corners and hitting people.”

Playing hard on every shift, Jagger has been very durable until his final year of Junior. He would have eclipsed all Viper service records if he had played a full season in 2018-19, but he suffered a string of bad luck. First, he missed several September games with a painful bout of shingles. Then a knee injury laid him low. He had just recovered from that setback when he broke his thumb. So, he appeared in just 31 of the 58 regular season games. He needed just four more games to match Rob Short’s record of 293 BCHL regular season and playoff games.

Jagger’s return to health coincided with the team’s late season resurgence and strong playoff run. He’s proud of how the team rebounded from a slow start. “It was a crazy year with all the injuries, suspensions, and players leaving for the WHL. But we stuck together and had a common goal. We played for each other and the coaches and the fans, and we finally got healthy and made it to the league final!”

Jagger’s leadership role and emergence as a strong two-way player has prepared him for college hockey. As he leaves for the next stage of his career, he acknowledges the “amazing Viper fans, the best fans in Jr. “A” hockey. I was a Viper fan, so I get where they’re coming from and I’ve really enjoyed meeting them out in the community.”

Jesse Adjusts

A successful life involves a series of adjustments. Jesse Lansdell, who played 127 of his 183 BCHL games with the Vipers, knows all about adjusting to different circumstances.

When he was traded from Chilliwack to Vernon early in the 2016-17 season, he not only had to adjust to a new city and live much farther away from his Langley home; he had to adjust to the more defensive style of hockey required by Mark Ferner. His production slipped, from 44 points in 55 games game in his rookie campaign in Chilliwack to just12 points in 44 games the next season with Vernon.

But he adjusted to the new system and a more pronounced role his next two seasons with the Vipers. Playing alongside Jagger Willamson, Jesse contributed 79 points in 83 games the last two seasons. He also chipped in with 32 points in 31 playoff games in 2018 and 2019.

Jesse would have provided more offence in his 20-year-old season, but he was suspended a total of 28 games by the league for being too physical. Jesse talks about how he had to adjust to the league’s crackdown on heavy body checking: “It’s pretty clear that the BCHL is trying to change the way the game is played. Sure, head shots and checking from behind should be punished; we have to cut down on blows that cause concussions. But I believe the league was targeting players who still play a physical style of hockey.”

He continues, “So I had to adjust. I didn’t want to hurt my team by getting suspended again, so I learned to pick and choose when I could use the body to separate a player from the puck. Playing physical is my style; that’s one of the ways I can contribute. But I figured out which hits to administer and which hits might give the league an excuse to suspend me again.”

He did play very physically in the Vipers’ strong playoff run, also supplying 19 points in 21 games. Together with linemates Jagger Williamson and Logan Cash, he was a force on the forecheck, a relentless back checker, and an accomplished stick checker as well. He was assessed 36 penalty minutes, but no majors, nothing that would warrant suspension.

Now as he prepares for the life of a student athlete at Notre Dame University in South Bend, he will need to adjust again. “It’s been nice being out of school for three years, free to focus on hockey and working out and being with my buddies, but now it’s time to really work at school and at a new level of hockey.”

The first step in the process will be a six-week academic bridge program at Notre Dame from mid-June to the end of July. “This next step will be a big adjustment,” he says, “but I’m looking forward to it.”

Monday, May 27, 2019

Condors Loan Ex Vipers Defenceman Wilson To ECHL:

The American Hockey League Bakersfield Condors have loaned former Vernon Vipers defenceman Jared Wilson to the ECHL Wichita Thunder.

The Condors signed Wilson July 13 2018. Wilson went pointless in one game with the Condors while collecting (1-goal-17-assists-18-points) in 49 games with the Thunder.

Wilson spent four seasons at RPI (Rensselaer Polytech. Inst.) signed his first professional contract with the ECHL Toledo Walleye March 13 2018. In 10 games with the Walleye Wilson collected (0-goals-4-assists-4-points).

Wilson played parts of one season In Vernon (2013-14) played in 48 games with the Vipers collected (5-goals-23-assists-28-points) after coming over in a trade with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. On October 1st 2013 the Vipers traded Craig Martin & future considerations to the Bulldogs for Jared Wilson. 

Wilson attended the Calgary Flames development camp in 2016 and the Anaheim Ducks development camp in 2017.

Jared Wilson's Player Profile:

This was on the Condors twitter account:

feb 5


TRANSACTION: The Condors have loaned Jared Wilson to the @Wichita_Thunder

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Vernon Vipers 20th Reunion:

The 1999 Royal Bank Cup Champion Vernon Vipers held their 20th reunion this weekend in Calgary, Alberta. 

It was twenty years ago May 9th 1999 that the 1999 the Vernon Vipers won their second Royal Bank Cup/fourth National Championship (Centennial Cup/Royal Bank Cup).

On May 9th 1999 the Vernon Vipers won their fourth National Championship after a 9-3 victory over the Charlottetown Abbies (Maritime Junior A Hockey League).

The 1999 Royal Bank Cup Champion Vernon Vipers were inducted into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame July 22nd 2016 in Penticton, BC at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Here is a tribute video on the 1999 Vernon Vipers,

Former Vernon Vipers owner Duncan Wray and former Head Coach/GM Troy Mick talk about the 1999 Vernon Vipers and their run to the Royal Bank Cup on the eve of the team being inducted into the BC Hockey Hall Of Fame.

1999 Royal Bank Cup Recap:

Three years after winning the inaugural Royal Bank Cup in 1996, Vernon once again claimed a National Title in 1999. The Vipers did this by capping a season of 52 wins and 6 loses 2 ties, breaking just about every record in league history, with a win over the Chilliwack Chiefs for the league title, Fred Page Cup. The Mowat Cup was a mixed blessing as Vernon won but, not without controversy. The Kimberley Dynamiters (Rocky Mountain JHL) won one game of the 4 played. It was the first time a team from the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League defeated a team from the BCHL. It should be noted however, that Vernon played with a Junior "B" backup goaltender in the loss, (7-6) due to injury of their regular goaltenders. Kimberley was only able to muster 13 shots in that game. The Doyle Cup was easily won by Vernon, 4 games to 1, over the Calgary Canucks (AJHL). The Vipers did it all the hard-way in the Royal Bank Cup Tournament winning only once during round-robin play. That one win was enough though, to claim the Abbott Cup by defeating the Estevan Bruins (SJHL), 3-2. After that dismal showing in the round-robin Vernon still managed to advance to the semi-finals. In that semi, the Bramalea Blues (OPJHL) went down to defeat by a score of 3-2. The Royal Bank Cup was an absolute blow-out as the Vipers hammered the Charlottetown Abbies (Maritime Junior A Hockey League), 9-3, claiming the franchises 4th National Championship in 10 years. The 1999 Viper team is considered by many the greatest team in BCHL history.

The 1999 Vernon Vipers finished with its best season in club history. Finishing top spots in the Interior Division & #1 overall in the BCHL as the leagues best team with a record of 50-6-2 wich was good for 106 pts.  The Vipers would lose their first three games before defeating Estevan in the final game of the Round Robin to advance to the semifinals.  A 3-2 win over Bramalea got Vernon back into another RBC Cup final where they destroyed Charlottetown in the Cup final.  Here’s a rundown on how the Vipers did through the BCHL’s Playoffs to advance to the teams record sixth National Championship & 2nd in the last four years.

Interior Semifinals: Vernon defeated Merritt 4-1
Interior Conference Finals: Vernon defeated Prince George 4-0
BCHL League Finals: Vernon defeated Chilliwack 4-1
Mowat Cup: Vernon defeated Kimberly (RMJHL) 3-1
Doyle Cup: Vernon defated Calgary (AJHL) 4-1

The 1999 Royal Bank Cup is the Tier II Junior "A" 1999 ice hockey National Championship for the Canadian Junior A Hockey League.

The Royal Bank Cup was be competed for by the winners of the Doyle Cup, Anavet Cup, Dudley Hewitt Cup, the Fred Page Cup and a host city.

The tournament was be hosted by the Yorkton Terriers and Yorkton, Saskatchewan.

The Playoffs: Round Robin

Rank Team League Ticket W-L GF GA

1 x-Bramalea Blues OPJHL Dudley Hewitt Cup 3-1 14 11
2 x-Yorkton Terriers SJHL Host 3-1 12 8
3 x-Charlottetown Abbies MJAHL Fred Page Cup 2-2 16 13
4 x-Vernon Vipers BCHL Doyle Cup 1-3 11 15
5 Estevan Bruins SJHL Anavet Cup 1-3 11 17

Note: x- denotes teams who have advanced to the semi-final.


Yorkton Terries defeat Estevan Bruins 6-1
Bramalea Blues defeat Vernon Vipers 4-2
Yorkton Terries defeat Charlottetown Abbies 2-1
Bramalea Blues defeat Estevan Bruins 4-3
Charlottetown Abbies defeat Vernon Vipers 6-5
Yorkton Terriers defeat Vernon Vipers 3-1
Estevan Bruins defeat Charlottetown Abbies 5-4
Bramalea Blues defeat Yorkton Terriers 5-1
Charlottetown Abbies defeat Bramalea Blues 5-1
Vernon Vipers defeat Estevan Bruins 3-2 for the Abbott Cup


Vernon Vipers 3
Bramalea Blues 2

Charlottetown Abbies 6
Yorkton Terriers 5

Royal Bank Cup Final: (Live On TSN)

Vernon Vipers 9
Charlottetown Abbies 3

Note: Charlottetown defeated Yorkton in Double Overtime.


Most Valuable Player: Dennis Bassett (Yorkton Terriers)

Top Scorer: William Hubloo (Charlottetown Abbies)

Most Sportsmanlike Player: Anthony Aquino (Bramalea Blues)

Top Goalie: Dennis Bassett (Yorkton Terriers)

Top Forward: Kyle Amyotte (Bramalea Blues)

Top Defenceman: John Bradley (Vernon Vipers)

Role of League Champions

AJHL: Calgary Canucks
BCHL: Vernon Vipers
CJHL: Hawkesbury Hawks
MJHL: OCN Blizzard
MJAHL: Charlottetown Abbies
NOJHL: Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats
OPJHL: Bramalea Blues
QJAAAHL: Valleyfield Braves
RMJHL: Kimberley Dynamiters
SJHL: Estevan Bruins

Vernon Vipers Roster:

Lanny Gare
Ryan Bayda
Petr Chytka
Tyler Knight
Nick Ringstad
Scott Krahn
Mike Bussoli
Kori Davison
Josh Reed
Kenny Magowan
Joel Bresciani
Kelly Sickavish
Lennie Rampone (Captain)
John Bradley
John Duggan
Jace Digel
Spence Gilchrist
Jeff Filewich
Tito Kamel
Tyler Valin
Danny Williams
Domenic La’Casse
Chris King
Derek Gustafson
Wade Dubielewicz

Owner & President Duncan Wray
GM & Head Coach Troy Mick
Assistant Coach Joe Oliver
Trainer Tim Cooper
Assistant Trainer Trevor McEachnie 

Please visit Paul's Vernon Junior Hockey History website,