Sports

Mark Ferner eager to rejoin coaching fraternity

Former Vernon Vipers
Former Vernon Vipers' head coach Mark Ferner has signed as an associate coach with the WHL Kamloops Blazers
— image credit: Photo Submitted

Mark Ferner joked that his wife Jody couldn’t put up with having him around the house any longer.

“I need to get out of town, or out of the country,” he chuckled.

Unemployed since January, when he was fired by the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, Ferner landed himself a new job this week as the associate coach of the Kamloops Blazers.

More seriously, Ferner said: “I couldn’t not coach for a year. I just wanted to stay in the game.”

Kamloops has been a big part of Ferner’s life – he grew up there, played his junior hockey with the Jr. Oilers/Blazers, and was also head coach of the Blazers for two seasons (2004-06). His late father, Ed, was a longtime scout for Kamloops, and has since had his name inducted into the organization’s hall of fame, in the builders category.

“It’s a real familiar place to me,” said Ferner, 47. “My mom still lives there, Jody’s parents live there, her brother, my sister.

“I had opportunities to go elsewhere, but Mackenzie (Ferner’s son, who will play defence this season with the BCHL West Kelowna Warriors) is only 17 once and I’ll get to see him play a little bit more.”

Ferner was fired by Kamloops midway through the 2005-06 season, back when the Blazers were a community-owned team. He is confident things will be different the second time around, partly because he has matured as a coach.

“It’s always tough when you get fired for the first time,” said Ferner. “Is it for the right reasons or wrong reasons, it’s not for me to say. But because of the relationship I had with the city, growing up there and playing there, it was a tough pill to swallow.”

Ferner also has confidence in the Blazers’ ownership group, which includes current and former NHLers Mark Recchi, Jarome Iginla, Shane Doan and Darryl Sydor. It is headed by Tom Gaglardi, CEO of Northland Properties, the parent company to Sandman Hotels, Denny’s Restaurants and other real estate and hospitality businesses.

“It’s different just for the fact that they have private ownership,” he said. “I know all those people quite well.”

Between Everett and Kamloops, Ferner spent four seasons with the Vernon Vipers, posting an impeccable 165-51-24 record, and winning three consecutive Fred Page Cup championships and two consecutive RBC Cup national titles in 2009 and 2010. The Vipers were national runners-up in 2011.

“It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s very rewarding when you get a good group of kids together and they gel and they want to play for each other,” he said.

Ferner, who has spent the last few weeks instructing a hockey camp with Sandy Moger at Priest Valley Arena, still has to finalize the details of his contract with the Blazers. He first had to tidy up loose ends with the Silvertips before he could formally sign with another WHL team.

Meanwhile, there are still spots available for the Vipers’ annual charity golf tournament, Aug. 25 and 26 at The Rise.

The $150 fee includes a ticket for the Vipers vs Salmon Arm SilverBacks BCHL exhibition game on Saturday, Aug. 25 (7 p.m.) at Kal Tire Place. It also includes entry into the Texas scramble tournament (1 p.m. shotgun start) on Sunday, Aug. 26.

Golf includes dinner, prizes, tee gift, silent auction and autograph session. Confirmed for the tourney are Aaron Volpatti  of the Washington Capitals and Jerred Smithson, a free agent formerly with the Edmonton Oilers.

Tournament proceeds go to Greater Vernon KidSport and the local RBC Cup committee.

To register, contact Lee Ranger by phoning 250-545-7425, or e-mailing lee.ranger@therise.ca. Or call the Viper office at 250-542-6022.

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