Brett Stapley (left) and Josh Prokop. (Morning Star file photos)

NHL high on Viper centres

Viper centres Brett Stapley and Josh Prokop are listed in mid-term NHL rankings

The NHL Central Scouting Bureau’s mid-term rankings are in and two Vernon Vipers made the list.

Centre Brett Stapley is ranked 146th, while centre Josh Prokop is 175th. The ratings, released Monday afternoon, included 10 BCHL players.

Stapley has been rated in past Central scouting lists, while this is Prokop’s first-time ranking.

Stapley, a third-year veteran out of Campbell River, has 18 goals and 42 points, third best on the Vipers. He had a scholarship with the Denver Pioneers. He turns 19 in February.

Prokop, a rookie who celebrates his 18th birthday next Tuesday, is sixth in the Viper points derby with 20 goals and 35 points. An Edmonton product who now calls Vernon home, is committed to the Ohio State Buckeyes for the 2019-20 season.

The top-ranked BCHLer is d-man Stanislav Demin of the Wenatchee Wild, checking in at No. 32. Close behind him is Penticton Vees blueliner Jonathon Tychonick at No. 45. Tychonick, a 17-year-old Penticton native is the BCHL Player of the Week after compiling seven points in three wins. He was named first star twice.

Trail Smoke Eater d-man Seth Barton settles in at No. 81 followed by Nanaimo Clippers D Maxwell Crozier at No. 115. The first BCHL forward making the list is Langley’s Brenday Budy at No. 138, one spot ahead of Rivermen teammate Angus Crookshank. F Ethan De Jong of the Prince George Sprucer Kings is 154th.

Among North American goaltenders, Penticton’s Adam Scheel is ranked 23rd overall, the second highest junior A stopper behind Matt Thiessen of the Manitoba League’s Steinbach Pistons. The 2018 NHL entry draft goes June 22-23 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

All of the listed BCHLers, along with Chilliwack Chiefs F Corey Andonovski, will play in the annual CJHL Prospects Game tonight in Mississagua, Ont.

Merritt Centennials bench boss Joe Martin will be the head coach for the West Prospects.

Joining Martin on the West bench will be former Toronto Maple Leafs star forward and Kelvington, Sask. native Wendel Clark. Drafted first overall by the Leafs in 1985, Clark played 793 NHL games predominantly with Toronto and scored 330 goals and 564 points in his career.

On the East bench, another former Leafs standout will accompany Toronto Patriots head coach John Dean. Rick Vaive, an Ottawa native who was the fifth overall draft pick by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1979 NHL draft, scored 50 goals in three different NHL seasons, all with Toronto, and 441-347-788 in 876 career games.

The Vipers, who bowed 2-1 to the host Coquitlam Express in a Sunday matinee, visit the West Kelowna Warriors Friday night and entertain the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Saturday night.

First-period powerplay goals from William Lawrence and Troy Robillard, and a 30-save performance from Brock Hamm, lifted the Express, who have gone 10-7-1 since making a coaching change Nov. 27. Coquitlam shaded Vernon 3-2 Dec. 6 at Kal Tire Place.

All of the scoring came in the opening 20 minutes. Jesse Lansdell gave the Snakes an early lead just 66 seconds after the puck drop, his 12th of the year. D-men Michael Ufberg and Michael Young drew assists.

The Triple J line of Lansdell, captain Jagger Williamson and Prokop have racked up 99 points in the last 25 games, tops on the team.

Anthony Yamnitsky made 25 saves in his first Viper start since Jan. 12. Vernon now shares first in the Interior with Penticton. The Express, 13-28-1-3, are last in the Mainland Division and six points ahead of the Cowichan Valley Capitals for the league’s final playoff spot.

“I don’t know if we played poorly or if we were too selfish,” said Viper head coach Mark Ferner. “System-wise, it was fine. There were a few guys trying to do be too individual instead of chipping pucks deep.”

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