In preparation for the start of the 2023-24 B.C. Hockey League season on Friday, Sept. 22, the Vernon Vipers have announced their leadership core for the year.
Connor Elliott has been named captain of the Vipers. A native of Coldstream, the fifth-year BCHLer becomes the sixth local captain since 1997, joining the list with Garth Gartner, Kori Davison, Chad Murray, Dave Robinson and Jagger Williamson.
“It’s an honour to be named captain of this team,” said Elliott. “We’ve got a great group of guys and I can’t wait to see what we’re going to accomplish this year.”
Joining the leadership group are four assistants, including the longest serving Viper, Luke Pakulak. The Surrey local enters his fourth year with the Vipers, having suited up in 112 games so far.
“It’s an honour to be recognized as an assistant captain,” said Pakulak. “I’ll have a great opportunity to develop as a player and a leader this year.”
A third year defenceman from Quebec, Anthony Cliché, will also be donning an A.
“I will use my junior hockey experience to help the boys be in the right mindset for this upcoming season,” Cliché explained.
The remaining assistants are sophomore players Hank Cleaves and Julian Facchinelli, who both made strides in their rookie seasons.
“Our staff believes we have a very strong mix of personalities within the leadership group to handle the challenges that will come along during the season,” said head coach and general manager of the Vipers Jason McKee.
“They will be a great extension of the coaching staff and will all play a major role on the team this year. The organization is excited for the continued contribution this group will make on the ice in Kal Tire Place and the community of Vernon as a whole.”
The Vipers open the new season Friday, Sept. 22, in Salmon Arm against the Silverbacks. Vernon’s home opener is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 23 against the Cranbrook Bucks, with a 6 p.m. puck drop.
• Former Vipers defenceman Sean Robertson has been hired by the BCHL as its hockey operations coordinator.
The native of Cobble Hill, on Vancouver Island, spent parts of six seasons with his hometown Victoria Grizzlies before being dealt to the Vipers in 2011-12. He had four assists in 31 games with the Snakes.
Robertson went on to play three years at Merrimack College where he graduated with honours and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business. Additionally, he played one year at the University of Guelph and another five seasons professionally in North America and Europe.
Robertson’s role will be to manage hockey operations at the league level and to assist with the department of player safety.
The BCHL also hired Matt Lawson as its communications coordinator. He held a similar position with the Coquitlam Express and Surrey Eagles.
This story was updated Friday, Sept. 22, at 6:52 a.m.