Sparrow turns energy switch

Colton Sparrow failed to lead his team to glory in the Vernon Vipers’ scavenger hunt Wednesday.

Colton Sparrow failed to lead his team to glory in the Vernon Vipers’ scavenger hunt Wednesday.

That’s about the only thing he hasn’t won during the Royal Bank Cup hockey playoff break.

The 20-year-old forward pocketed most of the prizes in the B.C. Hockey League team’s golf tournament Sunday at The Rise, coaching links newbie and best-ball partner Liam Coughlin in the process.

Then, on Wednesday, the BCHL announced Sparrow has topped the FortisBC Energy Player of the Game playoff voting.

Sparrow, who managed 11 goals and 34 points in 50 regular-season games, soared in the playoffs, pushing the Snakes to the Fred Page Cup final with eight goals and 22 points.

“Spares has always been an energy-type player and a fan favourite for his energy and jam,” said Viper head coach/GM Jason Williamson.

“Certain players are playoff performers and take their game to higher level. I’m not surprised at his playoff success. In his rookie season, he had a great playoff series against West Kelowna. His numbers are pretty huge. That line with (Brett) Mulcahy and (Brendan) Persley was feeling it.”

Sparrow plays bigger than his 5-foot-11, 180-pound frame and has thus played injured much of his career. The homegrown winger was basically healthy in the playoff run as the Vipers upset the Penticton Vees in the Interior final before getting swept by the Coquitlam Express in the league showdown.

“It’s a combination of being healthy and confident,” said Sparrow, who earned a scholarship with the Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks during the post-season.

“The body felt good and being 20 and having been there before, all helped. I tried to keep it simple and work hard every night. I’ve never felt that high level of confidence before; the game just seemed to slow down around me.”

The Fortis regular-season title went to forward Andrew Silard of the Chilliwack Chiefs. The Greenwich, Conn. product won the game award nine times. He had 12 goals and 31 points.

Sparrow and Coughlin carded a sizzling 71 in the golf tourney.

“That was Couglin’s first round of golf and he chipped in with some good shots,” said Sparrow. “We had to use his drive six times and he was good. I took him to the driving range before we teed off and he was doing the hockey slapshot thing, but he caught on fast. He’s a good athlete.”

The two-hour scavenger hunt saw the fivesome of captain Ryan Renz, Ken Citron, Logan Mick, Dexter Dancs and TJ Dumonceaux rack up the most points.

The Vipers practised Thursday morning and then headed to Excel Fitness for a workout with Rhonda Catt. They skate today from 11:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m. at Civic Arena.

They will bring in some affiliates and players signed for next season to play in a scrimmage Saturday (7 p.m.) at Civic. The Vipers get Sunday off and practise Monday from 1:30-3 p.m. at Civic before returning to Kal Tire Place for a Tuesday skate.

Dallas Calvin, who rung up 16 points as the Beaver Valley Nitehawks sleepwalked through the Keystone Cup westerns in Abbotsford, and Blaine Caton of the KIJHL North Okanagan Knights will be on Vernon’s active roster for the RBC.

Linden Hora, a former Vernonite now living in Kelowna, Brendan Wagner of Kelowna, Ryley Booth, Jagger Williamson and Matt Halvorson are also expected to play in Saturday’s scrimmage.

Hora scored the overtime winner as the Okanagan Rockets clipped the Toronto Young Nationals 3-2 for bronze at the Telus Midget Cup in Moose Jaw. Wagner was captain of the Rockets. Booth, Williamson and Halvorson are all Knights.

Zach Dyment of the Knights will also see action Saturday. He is the Vipers’ third goalie for the national tournament.

Vernon opens the RBC Saturday, May 10 against the Eastern champions (still to be decided).

Meanwhile, Coquitlam lost 4-1 to the Yorkton Terriers Wednesday night at the Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup in Dauphin, Man.

Playing without injured captain and leading scorer Ryan Rosenthal (knee), the Express were 2-1 going into a Thursday night game against the Dauphin Kings. Yorkton ended the round-robin at 2-2.

The winner of Coquitlam-Dauphin (2-1) finishes atop the standings with home ice in the championship game on Saturday. The loser falls into a three-way tie for second which will result in the calculators being used.

The Spruce Grove Saints of Alberta (1-2) met the Winnipeg Blues (1-2) Thursday afternoon with the loser being eliminated.

The top two teams advance to the RBC. Williamson has watched the westerns online.

“All the teams are pretty close,” said Williamson, who is headed to Dauphin to watch the final. “The Manitoba teams and Yorkton are older, while Spruce Grove is pretty young; they have nine ‘96s (1996 birthdates).”

In other hockey news, Vernon’s Ethan King was taken first in the second round, 23rd overall, by the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the WHL Bantam Draft Thursday in Calgary.

King is a 6-foot-4 defenceman who played last year with Pursuit of Excellence in Kelowna.

“They’re calling me later tonight,” said King, early Thursday afternoon. “I turned my phone off after the first round to save batteries and my buddy told me I was drafted in the second round. It’s pretty exciting. I know a few of the other players they drafted.”

Brandon Wheat Kings selected centre Stelio Mattheos first overall. He rung up 103 points as captain of the Winnipeg Monarchs last year.

 

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