Rich Vernon hockey history captured in pages of new book

Vernon author Don Klepp is well versed on junior hockey in the city.

What he didn’t realize when doing research for a book on the topic was the rich history beyond the junior ranks.

Klepp’s book — Vernon’s Hockey History, 1894-2021 — is an extensive look at the sport.

“You really start to understand the breadth and depth, and how far the history of hockey here goes back,” said Klepp, who spent several months talking with people who have been involved in the local hockey scene, such as players, coaches, owners, fans and volunteers.

Local journalists Pete McIntyre, Kevin Mitchell and Roger Knox shared their knowledge, stories and experience. The Vernon Museum and Archives and the Lumby Museum provided archival material that reached back to 1894, the first reported instance of a game played by a Vernon team.

The book pays tribute to the Vernon Coy Cup senior champions of the 1920s and ‘30s, and the incredible success of the Vernon Canadians senior team in the 1950s. There’s a chapter on the historic Vernon Civic Arena, where the Canadians won the Allan Cup title in 1956, and where the Vernon Lakers won the first of their six National Junior A championships in 1990.

There is complete coverage of those six Canadian championships won by the Lakers and Vernon Vipers.

Current Vipers executive vice-president Todd Miller had the original idea for the book.

Miller, who once did play-by-play for the Vipers before moving into the front office, had Klepp at his disposal as a colour commentator on broadcasts and as the team’s education advisor.

With the B.C. Hockey League celebrating its 60th year of operation in 2021-22, Miller thought a book about 60 years of Vernon Junior A Hockey would be a unique way to celebrate that history.

“I approached Don to write the book because of his writing experience and because he’s been involved with the Vipers for about 20 years,” said Miller. “In Don fashion, he went beyond those 60 years, all the way to the beginning of hockey in Vernon.”

Included in the book’s 200 pages are 44 feature articles about Vernon players, coaches, and owners, including Odie Lowe, Eddie Johnstone, Dennis Holland, Troy Mick, Garth Gartner, Lennie Rampone, and the Jones twins, Connor and Kellen.

Klepp, who grew up near Prince Albert, Sask., describes himself as a mediocre hockey player, but he ran the college hockey program at Kelsey Institute in Saskatoon for six years, also doing play-by-play of the Kelsey Amaruk (Inuit word meaning ‘white wolf’) games. He taught writing for 35 years at college and university.

The book sells for $25, including taxes. It is available from the Vipers office in Kal Tire Place3, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Books will also be available at the Vipers’ exhibition game, this Saturday, Sept 25, when Vernon hosts the Penticton Vees at 6 p.m. at Kal Tire Place.

READ MORE: Vipers’ Klepp honoured by shrine

READ MORE: Volunteers ready for RBC action

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Roger Knox

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