Ben Sanderson celebrates a snipe with the Okotoks Oilers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. (Brent Calver/OWW Photo)

Sanderson one happy Vernon Viper

Son of NHLer bolsters Vernon’s offence

Last time Ben Sanderson was in Vernon, he helped the Springbank Whalers of Calgary win the 2013 Coca-Cola Classic International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament.

He knows the city and is ecstatic to be the newest member of the B.C. Hockey League Vernon Vipers, who visit the Powell River Kings Friday night.

Sanderson was obtained in a Tuesday trade which saw Vernon send defenceman Tylor Ludwar to the Okotoks Oilers of the Alberta Junior League along with future considerations. Ludwar, who played 53 games with the Western League Kamloops Blazers, had played two games for Vernon.

“I was just super excited when I got the call,” said Sanderson, the son of former NHL forward Geoff Sanderson. “I knew Vernon was a great team and organization. I kind of knew what the area was like and everyone on the team was great about welcoming me to Vernon.”

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A multi-sport athlete who ran the 100-metre sprint, patrolled centre midfield in soccer and also excelled in badminton, swimming and golf, Sanderson was with the USHL Dubuque Fighting Saints, getting in two games.

“I decided I wanted to play and develop somewhere else,” said Sanderson, a Grade 12 student who has secured an NCAA Division 1 scholarship with the Colorado College Tigers.

He got in one practice with the Snakes, skating on a line with Teddy Wooding and Coleton Bilodeau Wednesday afternoon.

“My speed is definitely No. 1, speed and my shot,” said Sanderson, when asked what he brings to the table. “I create offence by crashing the net.”

Sanderson rang up 20 goals in 50 games with the Oilers last season.

The Springbank team which took the Winter Carnival classic included Nick Unruh of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, Max Crozier (Nanaimo Clippers, Sioux Falls Stampede, USHL) and Jonny Tychonick (Penticton Vees, North Dakota NCAA).

Ben’s father and former NHLer Brendan Morrison (Penticton Panthers, Michigan Wolverines) are in business together. Geoff coached the Whalers in the 2013 Pee Wee season.

The Vipers, meanwhile, were waiting on the league regards to a suspension to starry F Jesse Lansdell, who was assessed a blow to the head minor in Vernon’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Silverbacks Sunday afternoon. Salmon Arm asked the league for supplemental discipline on Lansdell, who just returned from a four-game suspension for a similar hit.

“We’re pretty sure it will be four games, but we haven’t heard from the league,” said Vernon head coach/GM Mark Ferner. “We’ll be appealing the length of the suspension.”

The Vipers will welcome back forwards Josh Latta and Sebastian Streu from Injured Reserve and D Brandon Fuller from suspension. Vernon takes on the Alberni Vally Bull Dogs Saturday night.

Meanwhile, Vernon’s Powell Connor is now the property of the Trail Smoke Eaters.

The rugged 18-year-old defenceman was traded from the Chilliwack Chiefs in a three-way BCHL deal this morning.

Connor, a Michigan State Spartans commit, had one goal and four points in 18 games in his third season with the Royal Bank Cup champion Chiefs. He asked for a trade, saying he had fulfilled all his goals in Chilliwack.

Connor played 118 regular season games with the Chiefs, and head coach/GM Brian Maloney said it wasn’t easy dealing the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder away.

“Powell has been a big part of the Chiefs program but sometimes when you’re in the same spot for awhile things can grow stale,” said Maloney. “Both Powell and I have been talking about his development and we both agreed that a change in scenery was best. Powell was a big part of our team but we also understand this is a development league and want to help kids develop whether it’s with us or elsewhere.”

The trade saw top-six forward Levi Glassman of the Smokies go to the Powell River Kings, who in turn sent 17-year-old defenceman Nathan Kelly to Chilliwack.

Glassman, 19, of Red Deer, rang up three goals and 13 points in his second year with the Smokies. The 6-foot, 165-pounder amassed 24 goals and 52 points last season.

Kelly, 17, of Delta, had three assists in 15 games with Powell River. The 5-foot-11, 170-pounder compiled four goals and a dozen points with the Kings last year after putting up 35 points with the Major Midget Greater Vancouver Canadians.’

*The Silverbacks acquired the rights to 19-year-old netminder Matthew Armitage from the Lloydminster Bobcats of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Armitage, who hails from Creston, spent last season with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western League playing 19 games and posting a 3.55 GAA and a .890 save percentage. He was with the Okotoks Oilers of the AJHL the year before.

Armitage is a product of the Edge where fellow Silverbacks Akito Hirose, Aiden Jenner, Sam MacBean, Unruh, Noah Wakeford, and Max Wutzke also graduated from.

“Matt played for me at the Edge School for Athletes in Calgary, where he starred for our Midget Prep team before playing in the AJHL for Okotoks and subsequently for the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL,” said Salmon Arm head coach/GM Scott Atkinson. “He is an excellent goaltender and an outstanding teammate. We feel Matt will help our team both on and off the ice.”

Finally, Hockey Canada has announced the rosters for the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and two BCHL players have landed roster spots.

Langley Rivermen defenceman Ryan Helliwell was named to Team Canada Black and Penticton Vees forward Cole Shepard was named to Team Canada Red.

Canada will be sending three teams to the tournament which goes from Nov. 3-10 in Saint John and Quispamsis, N.B. Team Canada Red, Black and White will compete for gold against the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden and the U.S.


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