His barefeet resting on his desk, Mark Ferner was sipping a generic root beer and watching his beloved New York Yankees win another ball game Wednesday.
And he was also grinning as he discussed his first Vernon Vipers’ training camp in five years.
A total of 71 players will scrimmage on four teams starting today at 2 p.m. (Kal Tire Place). There will be four games Saturday: 9-11 a.m., 11:15-1:15 p.m., 4-6 p.m. and 6:15-8:15 p.m.
There will be two morning scimmages Sunday before some cuts are made before the Blue and White Game, at 7 p.m.
“This is a young camp with lots of skilled guys,” said Ferner, who replaced Jason Williamson as head coach/GM two games into last B.C. Hockey League season.
“We have a really good ability to interchange our lineup. The returning players know they are not guaranteed a spot on the team considering the calibre of recruits. This will be a highly competitive camp.”
The marquee prospect may be speedy, ultra-skilled centre Peter Tufto, a finalist for Mr. Hockey in Minnesota last year after ringing up 27 goals and 63 points with St. Thomas Academy. Tufto, 18, will likely play on a line with Viper returneee Liam Finlay in the exhibition season.
Right winger Jimmy Lambert, 18, pocketed 21 goals and 56 points with the Major Midget Saskatoon Contacts last year.
“He was part of the best line in Saskatchewan with (former NHLer) Rich Pilon’s kid, Garrett, and Kole Lind,” said Ferner. The unit racked up 222 points.
Joe Sacco Jr. of Boston is a 19-year-old who skates and shoots well and plays with an edge. Sacco, whose father is an assistant coach with the NHL Bruins, supplied 22 goals with The Rivers School Red Wings of the U.S. High School league.
Viper alumni Scott Zurevinski, now working for NHL agent Todd Carroll, recommended C Joey Cipollone of Purchase, N.Y.
Cipollone amassed 51 points in 24 games with Harrison Select Hockey Academy and has locked up a scholarship to the University of New Hampshire Wildcats for the future.
Forwards Tak Anholt and Steve Jandrick will also join the mix for jobs.
Anholt, 17, is from North Vancouver and led the Yale Hockey Academy with 28 goals and 64 points in 24 games last year. He played five game with the BCHL champion Penticton Vees.
Jandrick, 18, of Prince George, produced 18 goals and 54 points with the Major Midget Cariboo Cougars. He scored once in six call-ups with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
On the back end, Callum Volpe (10G and 44 points with the Major Midget Vancouver Northeast Chiefs), Austin Cho (12G and 64 points with St. Andrew’s College Saints in Auora, Ont.) and Griffin James (8G and 25 points with St. Andrews) will push for jobs.
“Austin is a slick defender who is a smooth, calming player,” said Ferner. “He’ll be a big part of our group, no question. He has a scholarship to RPI for 2017.”
Alaskan Andrew Shortridge will join incumbent Jarrod Schamerhorn as 20-year-olds battling for crease time. Shortridge had a 2.57 average with the NAHL Aberdeen Wings in South Dakota last season.
SNAKE BITES: Former Viper captain Dave Robinson (UBC T-Birds), his cousin, Ryan Harrison (Calgary Dinos), Jedd Soleway (Wisconsin Badgers), Zach McPhee (Regina Cougars)) and ex-Viper Colton Sparrow (Fairbanks-Alaska Nanooks) skated with several Vipers Tuesday and Wednesday night. Veteran D Bo Pellah, obtained in a recent trade, turned heads for the Vipers…Tyro (Skip) Deek, a Saskatchewan Roughrider fan, is the team’s new head trainer. He worked for the Silverbacks last year and previously ran things for the Dauphin Kings (here for the 2014 RBC)…Kevin Pedersen joins Kevin Kraus and Eric Godard as an assistant coach. Pedersen was an assistant coach with North Shore Winter Club Bantams last year and previously scouted for the WHL Everett Silvertips. He has coaching experience with Team B.C. U16 will also scout for the Vipers…Future serious prospects in camp include 14-year-olds Jayden Lee and goalie Boston Bilous…F Brett Stapley, of Campbell River, is a ‘99 and he pocketed 138 points his second year Bantam with Campbell River…The Vipers open their exhibition season next Friday night at Salmon Arm. The same two teams meet the next night in Vernon.