Kraus heads Grizz bench

Former Viper d-man Kevin Kraus takes on head coaching duties with KIJHL Revelstoke Grizzlies.

  • Jun. 15, 2012 11:00 a.m.

This time last year, former Vernon Vipers defenceman Kevin Kraus was making ends meet by bartending and landscaping.

That was before the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s Revelstoke Grizzlies offered him a position as assistant coach.

After just one season behind the bench, Kraus, a native of Garden Grove, Calif., has landed his first head coaching gig. The former Viper captain and two-time RBC Cup champion will take over the reigns from Randy Quakenbush for the coming season.

“Even when I was still playing in the BCHL, I always thought about getting into coaching,” said Kraus, 22. “I got a call (last summer) to apply for Revelstoke, went from there and I’ve never looked back. I always thought I was a better teacher than a player.”

Kraus, who spent time in the WHL with the Kamloops Blazers and Tri-City Americans before coming to Vernon, says two of his biggest influences were from his time with the Vipers.

“Early on in my career, I had some guys take me under their wing and teach me some stuff. Mark Ferner (former Viper head coach, now with the WHL Everett Silvertips) is an unbelievable teacher and a great coach, so I respect what I learned in Vernon with Jason (Williamson) and Mark.”

Kraus didn’t learn he was getting the head coach title until after all other KIJHL teams had held their spring camps, which makes his job of attracting players that much more difficult.

“The hardest part is trying to recruit kids; being a young coach trying to convince kids to come play is challenging,” he said.

Lazar earns U18 invite

Vernon centre Curtis Lazar is among 40 players invited to the men’s summer Under 18 team selection camp, which goes Aug. 3-6 at the MasterCard Centre in Toronto.

Lazar is coming off a superb rookie season with the WHL Edmonton Oil Kings, who finished as the fourth best Major Junior team in Canada. The 6-foot, 185-pounder finished with 20-11-31 in 63 games and led all rookies in playoff scoring with 19 points in 20 games.

Chiefs to host inaugural Showcase

All but one B.C. Hockey League team will be starting the 2012-13 season on the road.

The Chilliwack Chiefs will host the inaugural BCHL showcase, with each of the 16 teams playing a pair of weekend games, Sept. 7-9, at Prospera Centre.

Each game counts towards the regular-season standings. The Vipers will open the mini-tourney against the defending RBC Cup champion Penticton Vees in a 3:30 p.m. matinee, Saturday, Sept. 9. They then battle the Coastal Conference champion Powell River Kings Sunday morning (10:30).

“It’s a good start to our league where we can get all the players, refs and teams together and get on the same page,” said Vipers’ head coach/GM Jason Williamson.

The Showcase will also serve as a potential recruiting tool for college scouts.

“It’s good for the scouts,” said Williamson. “We’re a developmental league and it’s good to get those guys to see our players first and get it in their head that there are a lot of good players in our league.”