Aaron Volpatti of the Vancouver Canucks lines up his tee shot in the Vernon Vipers charity golf tournament for KidSport Sunday at The Rise.

Aaron Volpatti of the Vancouver Canucks lines up his tee shot in the Vernon Vipers charity golf tournament for KidSport Sunday at The Rise.

Hockey stars tee it up for KidSport

NHLers tee up on The Rise for Vernon Vipers inaugural charity golf tournament for KidSport.

In a lineup that featured the star power of Aaron Volpatti of the Vancouver Canucks, Jerred Smithson of the Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers’ GM Steve Tambellini, it was a group less used to the spotlight that ruled the standings.

Sean Matile, the goaltending coach for the Vernon Vipers, and his Texas Scramble team took the first-ever Vernon Vipers charity golf scramble for KidSport in convincing fashion.

Matile and teammates Rob Lenoury, Kevin Black and Troy Thibert shot an 13-under 59 at The Rise Sunday, earning Sun Ice tops, sandals and balls courtesy of The Rise.

Smithson and his team that included Jeff Wills, Steve Pauls, and Mitch Pauls, took second place on the par-72 course, pocketing fridges from Parnells.

The Panthers’ pivot, who took time out of his summer training schedule to tee up for KidSport, was happy to be a part of the Viper’s first tournament and is looking forward to its future.

“Anytime you get a chance to give back to different charities and different events, I think it goes a long ways,” said Smithson.

“I know it’s been a great turnout here so far this year, and being the first year, I can only see it getting bigger and I’m looking forward to seeing how big it can really get.”

The third-place finish was a family affair as current Viper cousins, Aaron Hadley and Adam Tambellini combined with their fathers Benton and Steve, to round out the top-three.

Vipers’ head coach Jason Williamson teamed with Volpatti, former Viper Bryce Kakoske, and Cole Benjaminsen from the Maple Leaf Jr. Tour, to finish eighth, earning duffel bags.

Williamson couldn’t help but notice the poor play of the players that were in attendance, particularly in the group that followed them.

“That’s why they’re paired up together,” said Williamson jokingly. “Some of them I know aren’t the best golfers, but it’s a good thing they can play hockey.”

Volpatti, a former member of the Vipers admitted he wasn’t having the best round of golf but was just happy to be a part of the tournament.

“Obviously the weather’s been nice and The Rise is a very nice and difficult course, having a bit of difficult time today but it’s good,” said Volpatti.

Volpatti was happy to be playing a round of golf with a lot of current and former members of the Vipers organization, but he knows the kids are really the ones who will benefit from a tournament like this.

“We’re all a privileged group of people so it’s good to recognize those kids and the charity is a good thing. It’s good for kids to enjoy their youth and participate in the things they want to.”

Third-year Viper Colton Sparrow echoed that statement noting that not everyone gets the same opportunities.

“Obviously there are a lot of kids out there that don’t get the opportunity to play the sports that I’ve been lucky enough to play, and some of the guys out here who have been lucky enough to get to the next level. Hopefully with this tournament, we can help some of those kids get to that next level,” said Sparrow.

While Sparrow and his team didn’t make the top-eight, he was happy to see so many people taking part.

“It’s been a lot of fun, getting to golf with these young guys. Even I have a hero out here. Volpatti is a guy I really look up to, so it sounds like everyone’s kind of got a hero out here, it’s been a lot of fun,” said Sparrow.

Lee Ranger from The Rise said that the charity classic was a big success with about 100 golfers. Ranger holds a positive outlook for future years.

“We have a three-year, $25,000 goal and we’re well on our way to achieving that after our first year,” said Ranger. Final totals on the amount raised will be announced later.

Montreal Canadiens’ goalie Carey Price, who had originally confirmed to play, was unable to play due to a family matter. Detroit Red Wings’ scout Marty Stein was among the hockey celebrities.

For more information on KidSport visit www.greatervernonkidsport.com