Call it a fantasy trip with a twist. Just getting invited to the Philadelphia Wings’ training camp has Chad Pieper stoked. Given a shot at actually making the pro lacrosse team has Pieper working out like a Navy Seal.
A longtime MVP with the Armstrong Shamrocks, Pieper has enjoyed brief call-up sints with Senior A and B teams, but this National Lacrosse League opportunity trumps them all.
“I’ll be the oldest guy (36) in camp,” laughed Pieper, who will be one of six goalies auditioning from Nov. 30-Dec. 2. “Their starter (Brandon Miller) and back-up (Steve Fryer) from last year will be there along with a Senior B goalie from Ontario and a couple guys from Montreal.”
Wings’ head coach/GM Johnny Mouradian, has a summer home at Vernon’s Outback. He has known Pieper for a few years, and watched him play for the Shamrocks last summer. After originally inviting him to Philly’s rookie camp, Mouradian sent Pieper an email about attending main camp.
“In the letter, he says ‘your size is certainly in your advantage.’ From what I’ve heard, there is a competition there so it all depends on how I show.”
Pieper has dropped more than 25 pounds in a training regiment he started a month ago, and is facing countless shots in regular drop-in scrimmages at Hassen Memorial Arena.
A systems analyst with the City of Vernon, the ever-popular Pieper has to cover his flight costs. The Wings handle hotel and food charges.
“They are allowed to have 40 players under contract at main camp so I’ll be signing a contract here shortly. There are a couple of exhibition games (in Oakville, Ont.) before Christmas so I hope to stick around until then.”
The Wings, who drafted Vernon’s Brodie MacDonald, also a net detective, a few years ago, begin the NLL season in mid-January.
Pieper, whose dad, Chris, will accompany him to Philly, didn’t start playing lacrosse until he was 23. He gets calls to play in tournaments in Coquitlam, Prince George and Everett, not just because he’s a fabulous guy, but because he can play the game.
The Wings will open training camp at the BucksMont Indoor Sports Center in Hatfield under the leadership of two of the NLL’s most recognizable players, captains Brodie Merrill and Dan Dawson.
In Merrill’s first season with the Wings, he tied a career-high with 20 goals, and led the Wings by picking up 157 loose balls.
The Georgetown alum teams up with fellow Canadian star, Dawson, in an effort to bring the Wings back to prominence in the NLL.
Last season, Dawson scored 27 goals and pocketed a career-high 89 assists for a team-high 116 points. Dawson, who was selected by the Wings with the first overall pick in the Boston Blazers dispersal draft in 2011, enters his 12th season in the NLL.
Berger honoured by Swim B.C.
Vernon Kokanee grad Bruce Berger made the 1980 Canadian Olympic team but never got to compete due to the 61-nation boycott of the Moscow Games.
Berger was recently inducted into the B.C. Swimming Hall of Fame during a banquet at the Sandman Hotel in downtown Vancouver.
Wrote Mike Flegel of Swim B.C.: “For too long, you and your teammates from 1980 did not receive their due recognition, and following the lead of Swimming Canada in recognizing that 1980 team at the 2012 Olympic Trials, Swim BC would like to similarly honour your accomplishments.”
Born in Vernon on Nov. 11, 1961, Berger was a backstroke specialist who started his career at the age of eight with the Kokanee. At 15, he and his family moved to New Westminster where he joined the Hyack Swim Club.
His training there paid off with the best times of 58.00 for the 100m backstroke and 2:04.07 for the 200m back. Before earning a spot on the Olympic team, Berger swam in the dual meet in Moscow in 1979 and the 1980 Speedo Meet in Holland.
Bruce is a financial adviser with ZLC Financial Group in Vancouver. He lives in the Lynn Valley area of North Vancouver.
He still works out swimming regularly and he and his wife, Fiona, also a former competitive swimmer, have two boys very involved in hockey.
Teams picked for Coca-Cola Classic
Chairman Marty Stein has announced the seven out of town teams chosen for the 42nd annual Coca-Cola Pee Wee Classic Hockey Tournament, Feb. 7-10, at Civic Arena.
Joining Keith Chase’s Watkin Motors Mustangs will be the Springbank Whalers of Calgary (coached by retired NHLer Geoff Sanderson), the Southland Sabres of Calgary, Hollyburn Huskies (coached by local hockey grad Alex McPhee), Nanaimo Clippers, Seera Icemen of Edmonton, Spokane Jr. Chiefs and the defending champion Vancouver Thunderbirds.
The Coca-Cola committee received 23 invitations to the prestigious invitational.