Secure college scholarship, check. Named captain of the Vernon Vipers, check.
It’s been a pretty cool off-season for Vipers forward Connor Marritt, named by new head coach and general manager Jason McKee to be the B.C. Hockey League’s team captain for 2019-20.
Marritt, who recently committed to Northern Michigan Universioty for 2020-2021, takes over from Vipers graduating veteran Jagger Williamson.
“This is a huge honour and I’m very excited to take on the role,” said Marritt, a Kelowna native who turned 20 during the Vipers’ run to the BCHL’s Fred Page Cup final. ” I’ve watched previous Viper captains and I played with Jags [Jagger Williamson] for two years, so I know how much responsibility is involved. I’ve seen the way Jags interacted in the community. Also, he was so good with his teammates, making everybody feel part of the team. He’s a guy’s guy, someone whom we all like and respect.”
As a young minor hockey player in Vernon, Marritt remembers seeing how Chris Crowell carried himself when Crowell was the Viper captain for two years.
“That guy never took a shift off. He brought it every night, which I think is part of being a captain,” said Marritt. “You lead by example, which is what I expect of all our veterans this coming year.”
Said coach McKee: “We talked with a number of the players and with other people around the Vipers. It’s clear that his character suits the role; he’s a great teammate and really good in the community. And he works hard; he takes no shortcuts and that suits the culture that we want to have. Basically, he embodies the kind of person we want on the Vipers. And it’s a bonus that he’s a local player, growing up in Vernon and in Kelowna.”
The new coach and captain have met to discuss the upcoming season. Marritt is enthused about the pro-style system that the coach will introduce this year.
“It’s a little different than the system we’ve been used to, so it’s important that the team leaders help the new players buy into this way of playing,” said Marritt. “I think with the strong players we have returning and the good new signings, we’re going to have a really good team.”
With a scholarship to Northern Michigan locked up, Marritt can focus on his leadership role as he continues to evolve as a hard-nosed scoring winger.
In his rookie season Marritt registered 10 points, which he quadrupled last season, to tie Josh Latta and Teddy Wooding for the team points lead.