Thursday, April 30, 2020

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:

Sacco Commits To Trail:

The Trail Smoke Eaters are excited to welcome forward David Sacco, a University of New Hampshire commit, to the Smoke Eaters organization for the upcoming season. Sacco, from Middleton, Massachusetts joins the Smoke Eaters after playing his last two years for the Lawrence Academy Spartans of the USHS-Prep league. The 18-year-old played just 24 games for the Spartans this year and finished with 17 goals and 23 assists for 40 points. Despite playing three fewer games than his team mates, Sacco still finished second in team scoring. Sacco also played games for the Cape Cod Whalers playing games in the EHF U18 Elite league adding 7 points in 9 games and 18 more points in the Midget division for the Whalers. As a Spartan Sacco had 69 points in 49 games over his two season. “We’re very excited to add David Sacco to our next roster. David has a top end ability to score, while also possessing a high level of abrasiveness. We believe this mix of talent and edge will fit right into our forward group. Our goal is to have David ready to step into the University of New Hampshire for the 2021-22 season as a top Freshman.” – HC & GM Jeff Tambellini. When it the opportunity to become a Smoke Eater came before Sacco, he said he called current Smoke Eater and former teammate Connor Sweeney. “He told me what a great town and community Trail was. He said the energy inside Cominco and the passion of the fans makes this a great place to play your junior hockey. It’s been a goal of mine get to the next level of hockey, I’m excited that it will be in Trail and i’m looking forward to putting in the work to bring a championship to the City of Trail.” The Trail Smoke Eaters would like to welcome David Sacco to the City of Trail and the Smoke Eaters organization. We look forward to seeing him in Smoke Eaters orange in the fall.

NHL 20 Playoff Simulation: Salmon Arm vs. Trail

Ethan Langenegger and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks take on Kent Johnson and the Trail Smoke Eaters in Round 2 of the NHL 20 BCHL Playoffs Simulation, powered by Shaw.

Nanaimo Clippers: Graduating Players And Eligible Returnees:

The Nanaimo Clippers are coming off a season where they won the Island Division regular season title. The team has nine players committed to attend NCAA Division I schools this fall, including second-leading scorer Ethan Scardina. Leading scorer Joshua Bourne played out his 20-year-old year and is ineligible to return. However, the Clippers offence in 2020-21 is buoyed by the return of newly minted captain Kyler Kovich, who had 39 points in 51 games this past season. Joining him is 25-goal man and third-leading scorer Josh Kagan. There’s lots of veteran leadership on the blueline with Liam Visram, Trevor LeDonne and Robby Drazner all 20-year-olds next season. 17-year-old sophomore Jack O’Brien is already committed to attend Cornell University starting in the 2022-23 season. In goal, there is strength in numbers as returnees Jordan Naylor and Zachary Bennett are two overage players who will battle for crease time. Naylor had the third-highest single-season save percentage in BCHL history in 2019-20.

The depth chart is based on coaches going with a 23-man roster of 13 forwards, eight defencemen and two goaltenders.

Graduating Players

Tyler Williams (Lake Superior State University)
Ethan Scardina (Bowling Green State University)
Mackenzie Merriman (Princeton University)
Sean Donaldson (University of Connecticut)
Tim Washe (Western Michigan University)
Steven Agriogianis (Northeastern University)
Mike Kennedy (Princeton University)
Aiden Hansen-Bukata (Rochester Institute of Technology)
Devon Mussio (University of Alaska Anchorage)
Travis Walton (Trinity Western University)
Joshua Bourne (aged out)
Scott Mahovlich (aged out)

Eligible Returnees

(* indicates an open spot – assuming the team goes with 13 forwards and eight defencemen)


Zack Dallazanna (00)
Liam Ryan (00)
Josh Kagan (01)
Brandon Dent (01)
Kyler Kovich (02)


Liam Visram (00)
Trevor LeDonne (00)
Robby Drazner (00)
Jack O’Brien (03)


Jordan Naylor (00)
Zachary Bennett (00)

Looking Back At Vees Forward Jay O'Brien:

With the 2019/20 season coming to a close, we will take a look at each of the six 20-year-olds on the Vees roster and look back on their junior hockey careers. Next up: forward Jay O’Brien. The 2018/19 season was one that forward Jay O’Brien made a leap into from high school, suiting up for Providence College in the NCAA as a true freshman. A campaign that was hampered by injury and learning a balance of school and hockey made for a difficult transition and, ultimately, a big life choice. “It’s never easy to make a big decision like I did to leave college,” said O’Brien, “The jump from prep school to college is one that was more than anticipated for me. When I look back on it, I was so young in that I was only 18 and now that I am 20 years old, with a year of junior hockey under my belt, it feels entirely different.” That decision to play junior hockey saw the Hingham, Massachusetts native come to Western Canada for the first time and commit to play for the Vees. Traditionally, a 20-year-old player in junior hockey has experience at that level, whether in the BCHL or other junior leagues. For O’Brien, his story was a different one, “I’m coming from a different background than guys like David (Silye), Jack (Barnes), Colton (Kalezic) and Carson (Kosobud), who have been playing junior hockey for three or four years now,” mentioned O’Brien, “This was my first year of junior and I didn’t really know what to expect. I went to Youngstown in the USHL for a couple of weeks after my junior year in high school but I was only 16 and I was more worried about playing well and focusing so much on the hockey side that I didn’t really take in the experience.” Focusing on hockey was what O’Brien wanted to get back to when making the decision to play in Penticton and bringing joy back to the game that he loved, “You hear everyone say that junior helps your development so much and honestly, I agree with that,” said O’Brien, “My life is hockey, I love going to the rink every day and there is nothing better than going to the rink and being able to hang out with the guys. If you’re someone who loves hockey,  junior is a perfect spot and I couldn’t agree more with my decision to come here.” “It was my first year so there was that excitement to come to the rink every day and see the guys,” continued O’Brien, “I had so much fun coming in every day and practicing and it holds a special place for me and it still doesn’t feel real and I can’t believe it is over.” Coming in and not knowing what to expect from junior hockey, O’Brien got his first taste in the exhibition season when the Vees hosted the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. A two-game weekend set that had more feeling than a normal preseason back-to-back matchup, “That was intense,” recalls O’Brien, “That first weekend is one I will always remember. It was like legit playoff games and were so intense with chirping and big hits. The fans were into it and I think that was huge for us to get those couple of games under our belt and go right into the regular season.” The start of the regular season saw the Vees win each of their first 11 contests and created one of the first moments to remember for O’Brien, scoring an overtime, game-winning goal in Prince George against the Spruce Kings. For Jay, that wasn’t necessarily why the night was so memorable, however, “We had a big win up in Prince George and I guess that’s where I got my first taste of junior hockey when I got stitches about my eyebrow, done nicely by Kerrzy (Vees Trainer Brendon Kerr),” said O’Brien, “Those were the things you will always remember, getting stitches and then coming back to score the OT winner and have all the guys come over and celebrate and coaches giving you a pat on the back.” “I knew we were going to be a good team early on,” continued O’Brien, “You could see it in practice as guys wanted to be there and be the best player they could. A guy like myself really tried to implement that and push the pace in practice and get everybody going early and start us off on the right foot. We learned a lot early about the way we wanted to play and how different lines looked but I think the biggest thing for us is that we just played really hard and we played together and that’s why we won so many games this year.” Being a first round selection in the National Hockey League’s Entry Draft, going 19th overall in 2019 to the Philadelphia Flyers, O’Brien has been used to garnering attention from the opposition and was no different in his transition to junior hockey, “This year kind of reminded me of my last year in high school,” said O’Brien, “Everybody is keening on you and wants to take a lick at you and get you off your game but for me, there is nothing more I like better than that. I like getting into it with guys on the ice and it fuels the fire for me and makes me play with an edge and a bit chippy.” As the season progressed, the play of the Vees seemed to get more and more intense, no matter who was in our out of the lineup. One constant always remained the same and that was how tight-knit of a team this was, “I think Fred (Harbinson) did a great job in finding the group that really fit our mold in guys that wanted to win and wanted to be a Vee,” mentioned O’Brien, “When you have guys like that, it makes it pretty easy to come together as a group. I think just the fact that we were able to come back in so many games, I don’t think I have ever been a part of a group like that before and says a lot about the team we had this season.” “I think the biggest thing will probably be all the guys,” O’Brien mentioned about what he will remember the most from his time in Penticton, “I think we had the perfect combination of guys that liked to joke around but knew when it was time to get serious. We had a lot of different personalities and guys that brought different things to the locker room, we had goofy guys but everyone knew the times it was okay to joke around and have fun and when it was time to lock it down.” “It was one of the best teams I’ve ever been on in terms of locker room chemistry and just everybody worked so hard on the ice and was so competitive,” continued O’Brien, “I think we had a lot of real competitors in the locker room that wanted one extra rep in practice or the gym and it just had a really special feel. I heard so many good things about Penticton and it’s reputation but once you get to know everyone there with the coaches and people around the team, it’s a really special place. I think it all starts with the owners in Graham and Sue (Fraser), they do such a great job with building the team and giving you every resource you need to become a good player and that’s why they have developed so many good hockey players.” O’Brien will continue his hockey career back in collegiate hockey and much closer to home in 2020, heading back to Massachusetts to play with Boston University in the fall. “I’m pumped,” commented O’Brien, “It’s such a different feeling right now than it was in the summer before going to Providence. It was so chaotic with the Draft and the NHL Combine as well as the World Junior Showcase, it felt kind of rushed going into college.  The biggest thing for me was the mental side of it and I feel ready to go. I’m excited to get back into college and play for such a historic university and play with a lot of guys that I grew up playing with and under a Head Coach in Albie O’Connell who I know very well and I’m pumped to get things going there.” The Vees would like to thank Jay for everything he did while in Penticton and his contributions to the organization and the City of Penticton and wish him the very best in his future endeavours!

Chilliwack Chiefs Say COVID-19 Won’t Make Them Fold:

BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb made headlines last week, suggesting that financially troubled teams could fold due to COVID-19 if the junior A hockey league doesn’t receive financial aid. The hockey boss laid out a worst-case scenario that even included the possibility that the 2020-21 season might not go ahead. He suggested some teams might be forced to take a ‘hiatus,’ and never come back. But here in Chilliwack, the Chiefs say they’re in good shape to ride out the storm. “Well we’re not folding, I can tell you that much,” said Brian Maloney, the team’s head coach and general manager of hockey ops and the Chilliwack Coliseum. “Obviously there are tons of unknowns here with the league and teams within the league, and a lot of it is just people speculating, I’m sure.  “Things could change. We could fire up at the end of the month, or we might not fire up until halfway through the year. But over the last few years we’ve done a good job cleaning up our expenses, managing our budget and putting ourselves in a position where we’re fine right now.” The Chiefs bowed out of the 2019-20 playoffs in the first round, and thus weren’t affected when the remaining three rounds were cancelled. The eight teams that were still in the hunt for the Fred Page Cup lost anywhere from two to 12 home games worth of revenue, depending on how far they advanced. The Chiefs, and every other league, will likely lose dollars from the cancellation of pay-to-play spring and summer camps. Where Chilliwack could take a significant bottom line hit is in sponsorship for next season. With local businesses feeling the pain of the COVID-19 induced shutdown, business owners may feel compelled to pull back on ‘discretionary spending.’ Sponsoring the local hockey club is a nice thing to do, but when there’s a stack of bills to be paid and little money left to pay them, tough calls have to be made. But Barry Douglas, who runs the business side, says so far the Chiefs’ business partners are sticking with them. “We’ve had great conversations with our partners, and most of them want to be involved with the Chiefs again, but it’s a wait-and-see approach like everything else right now,” he said. “They’ve shown they really want to support the team when hockey starts back up again.” As Hebb laid out his doomsday scenario, he urged BCHL teams to reach out to their municipal governments, and get those people pushing senior levels of government for help. “The economic impact that our team has in the community is important,” Douglas said. “With the restaurants and hotels and gas and the building as well – we provide jobs for local people – when we do get back up and running that economic impact will return.” And when the world does emerge from the pandemic and people try to get ‘back to normal,’ Maloney believes the Chiefs will play a big role. “If we can get through this, I think people are going to be excited about getting out of their living rooms and coming to the rink to support their local team,” he surmised. “Everyone needs sports. Not just hockey. It’s especially important for kids to get out and interact socially, and if we can open up and create some camps and some positive atmosphere, it’s only going to benefit everyone.”

Kings Name Van Diemen New General Manager:

The Powell River Kings Hockey Club Society announced today the hiring of Chad van Diemen as General Manager of the Powell River Kings. In this role, Chad will oversee all hockey operations for the Powell River Kings working alongside new Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations, Brock Sawyer. “The Powell River Kings are excited to welcome Chad van Diemen as General Manager of the organization,” said Team President, Rob Villani. “Chad’s experience in hockey operations is unmatched, and his new role is an important step to the Kings achieving the success we all want for the team. The landscape of the BCHL has been forever changing and the board of directors felt that we needed to split the role of Head Coach and General Manager. I look forward to working with Chad and seeing what both he and Brock will do for the organization.” “I am very grateful for the opportunity to continue to work with the Kings organization,” said van Diemen. “I look forward to working with our staff and supporting them as best I can as we move ahead in these difficult times. With that being said, I’m excited to work with Brock again on a day to day basis. We share a common vision and passion for this organization. We are working hard with recruiting and want to provide our fans with a competitive team to watch on the ice, and a great group of young men off the ice to be positive role models in our community.” Chad, who is also a Powell River Kings alum, playing for one and a half season in 2000 and 2001, was the Assistant Coach for the Kings back in 2009 – 2015. Chad moved his young family to Prince George to become the Head Coach of the Spruce Kings from 2015 – 2017 where he played a role in building the foundation of the team that won the Fred Page Cup in 2019. Chad and his family moved back to Powell River in 2017, where he became a Board Member of the Powell River Kings Hockey Club Society. Please join us in welcoming Chad van Diemen to his new role as General Manager.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Clan Sign Former Vipers Defenceman Robertson:

The Elite Ice Hockey League Glasgow Clan have signed former Vernon Vipers defenceman Sean Robertson.

The Glasgow Clan (formerly Braehead Clan) is a Scottish professional ice hockey team. It was formed in 2010 as the UK Elite Ice Hockey League expanded into the West of Scotland market, and are based at the Braehead Arena in Renfrewshire. It is currently one of three Scottish clubs playing in the top British league. In 9 games this year with the Clan Robertson collected three assists.

Robertson started the 2019-20 season with the Diables Rouges de Briançon ((in English): Briançon Red Devils). The Red Devils are an ice hockey team from Briançon France. In 26 games with the Red Devils Robertson collected (5-goals-19-assists-24-points).

Robertson played In 11 games with Merrimack College during the 2012-13 season before leaving for the University of Guelph in 2015. Robertson left the University of Guelph after the 2015-16 season, before signing his first professional contract in 2016 with the Southern Professional Hockey League Fayetteville FireAntz. From 2016-2018 Robertson played in the Southern Professional Hockey League & ECHL with six different teams (Fayetteville FireAntz, Utah Grizzlies, Knoxville Ice Bears, Fayetteville Marksmen, Reading Royals & Florida Everblades) before playing last season with the Cergy-Pontoise Jokers. The Hockey Club of Cergy-Pontoise (or the Jokers of Cergy-Pontoise ) is a French club of ice hockey and roller in line hockey.

Robertson spent his first six seasons playing for the Victoria Grizzlies before being traded to Vernon in his final year of junior hockey. On December 12th 2011 the Vipers traded Zach McPhee and future considerations to Victoria for Robertson.  In 31 games with the Vipers Robertson collected (0-goals-4-assists-4-points).
Sean Robertson's Player Profile:

This was posted on the Clan website:

SIGNING NEWS: Robertson joins the Clan!

The Glasgow Clan are delighted to announce the signing of Canadian defenceman Sean Robertson from French Ligue Magnus outfit Diables Rouges de Briançon.

The 28-year-old from British Columbia joins the Clan in his first move to the EIHL after spending the previous two seasons in France.

Previous to that, Sean iced for the Utah Grizzlies, Reading Royals and Florida Everblades of the ECHL.

He also spent four seasons in the NCAA / USports leagues with Merrimack College and the University of Guelph.

A graduate of the Victoria Grizzlies of the BCHL, Sean skated alongside former and current Clan players Lee Baldwin, Mike Hammond and Jordan Haywood not to mention current NHL stars Tyler Bozak and Jamie Benn.

At 6’1″ and 194 lbs (185 cm / 88 kg) he brings size to a defence core who are short on numbers after the long term loss of Jordan Haywood to injury.

Clan head coach Zack Fitzgerald is delighted to be able to add another defenceman to his line-up:

“Robertson is a defense-first type defenceman. He takes pride in defending the net, blocking shots and doing what it takes for the team.” commented Fitzgerald.

“He will bring a shutdown element to the back end, move the puck up ice quickly, add character to our room and he is hungry.

“He comes with great references and has even played with one of our own in Jordan Heywood.

“He is a positive voice in the room. He is looking for the right opportunity and wants to help us through this 15 game battle we have to solidify our playoff goals.

“I look forward to working with and welcoming Sean to Glasgow.”

Sean will wear #22 during his time with the Clan and has to arrived in Glasgow ahead of this weekend.

See Sean make his debut THIS SATURDAY when the Manchester Storm come to Braehead Arena (7:00pm face-off).

Tickets are available NOW online HERE, by calling 0844 499 1700.

Former Viper "AP" Urban Returns To SPHL:

Former Vernon Vipers "AP" defenceman Zach Urban has returned to the Southern Professional Hockey League Macon Mayhem. 

The SPHL season was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Urban left the Mayhem after signing with the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays January 5th 2020. Urban had one assist in three games with the Stingrays.

Urban started the 2019-20 season with the Mayhem. Urban is in his third season with the Mayhem was loaned to the ECHL Kalamazoo Wings, November 22 2019 before being released December 4th 2019. Urban had one goal in five games with the Wings. In 42 games with the Mayhem Urban had (2-goals-11-assists-13-points).

Urban spent last season between the Mayhem & the ECHL Toledo Walleye. 

After playing two years at the University of Northern Michigan Urban signed his first professional contract with the Mayhem in 2017.

Urban played one game as an "AP" affiliated player with the Vernon Vipers during the 2010-11 season. Urban also played with Penticton, Powell River, Victoria, Salmon Arm & Langley.

Zach Urban's Player Profile:

This was posted on the Mayhem facebook page:

Macon Mayhem

January 11 ·


--Zach Urban (D) has returned from his loan to the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays

--#Mayhem Equipment Manager Evan Watts will suit up as an emergency back-up goaltender to fill in for the injured Kevin Entmaa (lower body)

#SoundTheHorn | #MarvelSuperHero™Night

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

BCHL Commissioner Chris Hebb Q&A: League Pursues Financial Assistance From BC Government:

This is posted on

BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb Q&A: League pursues financial assistance from BC government

Written by Brian Wiebe on April 22, 2020

The BCHL sent out a news release on Wednesday morning to outline the league’s intent to approach the provincial government for financial assistance in the wake of the 2019-20 season being cancelled. The league’s 18 member teams, much like the rest of the world, is dealing with the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a Q&A with BCHLNetwork co-founder and managing editor Brian Wiebe, BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb talks about approaching the provincial government for assistance and what steps are in place to prepare for the 2020-21 season.

Brian Wiebe: Is the financial assistance request over and above the funding for small businesses and sport that has already been announced by the provincial and federal governments?

Chris Hebb: Yes it is. Some of our teams have applied for the small business support and we’re encouraging that. But this (call for financial assistance) would be over and above that support. It’s something that happens in junior A leagues across the country, where the provincial government does spend money because they see the value. We’ve never asked for a dime from the provincial government in the past. However, given what COVID has done to deplete our revenues, we just want to have a conversation and see if there is something that can be done to tide us over. And for us to be able to demonstrate to the province the value of the BCHL.

BW: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced emergency funding to Heritage Canada, which is all about arts, culture, and sport. Have you encouraged teams to apply for that?

CH: Yes, absolutely, that was a great announcement last Friday and $500 million seems like a lot of money, but when you split it between arts and culture and sports, there won’t be a lot to go around. We will certainly pursue it and we’ve gathered all the support we need to make a federal pitch as well, but we’re starting with the province.

BW: In the news release this morning, you mention that you’ve identified potential financial issues down the road due to this pandemic and want to address these problems now. What specifically are those financial issues?

CH: It falls into one category, and that’s bums in seats. That’s exactly how our teams stay viable. At this point, we don’t know when we’ll have any arena availability, and that means it’s very difficult to sell tickets – and it’s doubly difficult to sell sponsorship because a sponsor is there because they are expecting to see people in the seats. Those are the two main revenue streams for our teams and both of them are affected by the pandemic.

BW: You were on Global BC on the weekend talking about the league’s contingency fund, Jay Janower tweeted out that it was upwards of $3 million, which breaks down to just over $166,000 per team. Is that how it was distributed?

CH: It’s between $150,000 and $250,000 per team, based on whether they lost playoff revenue or not because some of the teams were not generating that. It partially reflects our collective loss, not only in what we lost from the playoffs but also what we lost in spring revenues with our camps and leagues, and also what teams were projecting this would cost them in ticket sales and sponsorship.

BW: What do you say to those who are opposed to privately-owned junior hockey franchises asking for government funding?

CH: One of the things that people have to understand is, yes we have private owners, but we also have non-profit societies that are basically community-owned teams in our league. They’ve been around for close to 59 years and the reason they’ve been able to survive is they draw upon community assets. It’s really about whether you believe the BC Hockey League adds value.

Here are a couple of things that I think people should remember. One is, in terms of financial impact, it’s over $12 million every year. Every team spends $750,000 to travel, put the players up, buy equipment – all of that sort of thing. The second thing is, this year along, we’re going to have 172 of our players – out of 400 – who are going to receive scholarships to move on to an education. That amounts to about $3 million every year in scholarship money that they’ve derived from being able to show their skills in our league.

And then the third thing is the impact on the community. All of our teams spend time in schools, seniors’ homes – the teams make sure the players are there to be part of the community. They are not like a pro player who will show up at an event once in a while, our kids are in the schools all the time. It affects the social and cultural fabric of every community as well.

BW: Are there markets in the league where the social and cultural fabric is impacted more so than others?

CH: Of course. We have a disparate group of owners. We have some owners who probably won’t take any (financial) help because they’re wealthy and they can afford not to. What we’re trying to do is get the revenue to places where it’s needed most. If the government requires us to do that, we’d go along with it. At the same time, you look at the differences in the teams around the BCHL and some are going to need some help.

BW: With word from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry that we will not have big events where people gather this summer, does that effectively already push back training camp, pre-season and the start of the regular season?

CH: No, we’re pretty early in the game to make that kind of determination. But we wouldn’t even be the ones to make that determination, it’s Hockey Canada who makes those decisions and they’ll base their decisions on provincial authorities. If I’m a betting man, because BC has been so proactive, we’re probably in one of the best positions of any junior A league in the country to come back on time. I’m not getting ahead of Hockey Canada there because ultimately they make the decision, but you just look at how well we’ve flattened the curve and it makes us optimistic.

BW: Has Hockey Canada given you any indication as to where its planning for 2020-21 is at? 

CH: We talk to Hockey Canada every week through the Canadian Junior Hockey League and they give us their very latest update. They’re planning every scenario with the first scenario for everybody to be back on September 1st, but we don’t know yet. We’re not going to get ahead of the decision-makers but we’re going to be prepared to play. And that’s what we’re saying with this announcement, instead of waiting until there’s a crisis (with our teams), let’s talk to the government now and see if there’s a way we can get some help.

BW: In the next few months, if the curve is flattened in BC and the provincial health authority says we can go back to community centres and arenas and places like that, have you had any indication from Hockey Canada and the CJHL that the BCHL might start-up but junior A leagues in other provinces might not?

CH: They haven’t yet and they’re still making decisions based on the fact that they’d love to see everybody come back at the same time. However, we feel that if there’s a chance for the BC Hockey League to come back earlier and Hockey Canada allows that to happen, we’ll be there.

BW: Over the last week, you have been clear in stating that there may not be a 2020-21 BCHL season. At this point, how confident are you that there will be a season in some way, shape, or form?

CH: Again, we’re just leaning on what we’re hearing from Hockey Canada and the provincial health authorities. I would say in the last week, with Dr. Henry saying that by the middle of May there might be ways that sports could start up again, it feels to me like we’re starting to have a more optimistic tone. We are flattening the curve and we just don’t want to go out and get ahead of the provincial health authorities and neither does Hockey Canada. We’re going to be walking hand in hand to what we feel is a safe return to play.

BW: Is there a point this off-season where teams must commit to playing in 2020-21 if there is a season?

CH: We’re going to come to that point. If we get into September (and things are still like this), we’ll have a tough time putting a season together. It is still only April and we’re planning on a schedule of 54 games starting in September. We also have one that’s 50 games, we also have one that’s 46 games, so we will play a reduced schedule if we have to, but we don’t know of any drop-dead date at this point.

BW: A 46 game schedule would buy some time and still be able to get a somewhat complete season in. What date would it be looking at for a start?

CH: It puts us into October and I think the other issue is if we change the way the schedule works just to help teams save money. We haven’t decided that yet but that is something down the road and it is part of the discussions that we’re having with our Board.

BW: How much does the league and its Board discuss what a new normal could look like given the nature of the sport is one where players are in close quarters in the dressing room, on the bus, in hotel rooms, etc.?

CH: It’s something that’s discussed at the CJHL level. What we’ll do is fall in line with whatever Hockey Canada dictates. We’ve asked Hockey Canada if there will be new protocols when we do return to play and we fully expect that there will be, so it’s just a question of what they are.

BW: Has Hockey Canada asked for input from the leagues regarding the entire COVID-19 situation?

CH: We speak to Hockey Canada through the CJHL. We have a Board of Governors made up of the commissioners and when we speak to Hockey Canada, it is either through our president Brent Ladds or as a Board. All of the conversations we’ve had with Hockey Canada so far have been with every commissioner on the call. That’s the way we’re handling this and we’re not talking to Hockey Canada directly as individuals.

BW: Do you feel your voice representing the BCHL is being heard?

CH: Absolutely it is, I think there’s a lot of respect – not only at the CJHL but at Hockey Canada – for our league. We feel strongly that we’re being proactive to make sure that we’re taking care of our own backyard, but at the end of the day, we’re also part of a national organization that has a voice at Hockey Canada and our voice is being heard.

BW: In other media interviews over the last little while, you’ve expressed concern that if a team does go on hiatus for 2020-21, there is a chance it may fold. Many people in your communities are heavily invested in their teams and the league. How do you put those concerned minds at ease?

CH: What we don’t want to get into is a bunch of what-ifs. What we do know now is that every single team has declared it is playing when hockey comes back and we’ll deal with any issues that come up in the future. Will it help to have provincial government support when it comes to decisions like that having to be made? Absolutely. That’s why we’re asking for a call with the government.

BW: Right now the outreach to the provincial government is for nothing more than a conversation, correct?

CH: That’s right, we don’t have a demand, we don’t have a number, we’re just saying, “We want to tell you about this league,” because I think, in some respects, because it’s so diverse and so broad across the geography of the province, that there may be ministers or even MLAs who are unaware of the impact of this league.

BW: Is there anything you’d like to add?

CH: I just wanted to say that this league’s been around for 59 years, we’re not going anywhere and we look forward to our 60th anniversary with 18 really strong teams. We’re all going to get through this together and we hope that our fans understand that we’re doing everything we can to make sure that every single franchise is viable.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Robinson's Message For Vipers Fans:

This is on the Vernon Vipers twitter account & facebook page:


Apr 12, 2020

Our trainer Ty Robinson is practicing his social distance and his dart game!  He's got something to share with you! #OneGoal

Hockey Program Elimination Impacts Vernon Vipers Alum:

This is posted on the Vernon Morning Star website:

Hockey program elimination impacts Vernon Vipers alum

D-man Cameron Trott was in third year at U. of Lethbridge, which eliminated men’s and women’s teams 

Roger Knox

Apr. 22, 2020        Local Sports

When he woke up Monday, April 20, former Vernon Vipers defenceman Cameron Trott didn’t have a hockey team to play for anymore.

Trott, who turned 23 the day before, was a third-year blueliner studying business with the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns in Canada U-SPORTS’ Canada West conference. When he started reading his emails Monday, Trott discovered the university had announced it was disbanding its men’s and women’s hockey programs due to budget considerations.

“It was a feeling of disbelief,” said Trott from his parent’s home in Anmore, outside of Burnaby, on April 21. “There was no hint that was this coming. No warning, nothing. The coaches didn’t know. Staff didn’t know. The players didn’t know. Nobody did. We were all informed by email.”

“We have had to make several difficult decisions in the past few months and this one is equally challenging,” said Mike Mahon, University of Lethbridge president and vice-chancellor. “The Pronghorn hockey programs have been a source of great pride for our athletes, students, alumni, donors, sponsors, the campus community and supporters throughout southern Alberta. I know this news will significantly impact everyone associated with these programs.”

A total of 52 student-athletes, including Trott, are directly affected by this decision, as well as several recruits and coaches. Further, in response to budget considerations and to reflect a smaller complement of programs, the University is restructuring Sport and Recreation Services. The executive director position was eliminated last week.

Trott was acquired by the Vipers in the midst of the 2016-17 season from the B.C. Hockey League’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. He finished out the year, then accepted an NCAA Div. 1 scholarship to the University of Alaska-Anchorage. Trott spent one semester up north before leaving and returning to the Vipers in 2017-18. He helped Vernon make the playoffs, where they lost in six games in an Interior Conference semifinal to the eventual league champion Wenatchee Wild.

Trott played 131 career regular-season games in the BCHL with Salmon Arm and Vernon, compiling 15 goals and 50 assists for 65 points. In 28 career playoff games, Trott added 6-9-15.

Following the 2017-18 season, with the calendar moving quickly toward the start of a new hockey year, Trott accepted a deal at Lethbridge.

“There was a spot open there and my brother knew a couple of guys on the team, and they figured I would be a good fit,” said Trott, who still has two years of Canada U-SPORTS eligibility left.

The University of Lethbridge will honour scholarship commitments to its student-athletes if they choose to continue to study there. As well, it will work with student-athletes and recruited athletes to pursue opportunities with other university programs if they so desire.

“I haven’t decided anything yet, I need to figure out a plan,” said Trott. “I want to keep on playing hockey.”

Vernon runners Liam McGrath and Samantha Loewen went through the same thing in March when Thompson Rivers University of Kamloops announced it was disbanding its men’s and women’s cross-country running programs.

The Lethbridge men’s hockey team debuted in 1984 while the women’s team started up in 1997.