Pod Season is on in the B.C. Hockey League, and the Vernon Vipers have named the leadership group that will lead them through a schedule like no other.
The Vipers announced four players who will wear an ‘A’ patch during the shortened 2021 season: Hunter Donohoe, Trey Taylor, Tyler Carpendale and Seth Bafaro.
“This is a unique situation, where we will be playing a lot of hockey in a short period of time,” said Vipers head coach and GM Jason McKee. “There will be ups and downs and we feel the experience these players have will really help our group.”
The Vipers won’t ice a captain during this BCHL season that’s been severely shortened by the pandemic. The Vipers will play 20 games from Friday (April 2) to May 9. Vernon is one of five pod cities and will host games against Salmon Arm and West Kelowna at Kal Tire Place.
Donohoe joined the team in November last season, potting two goals and nine assists before adding three points in five playoff games.
“Hunter has really grown and developed as a player,” said McKee. “He’s the type of player who our younger guys gravitate to. That trait will be extremely important in the next six weeks.”
Donohoe called it an honour to be chosen for a leadership role on a team with lots of jump.
“I believe every guy in the room has battled this year for us to get a chance to play and we are all excited to get back on the ice,” he said.
Taylor has amassed more than 120 games in a Vipers jersey, now in his third season with the team, and his coach feels he’s ready to fill the role of the team’s top senior players from last season.
“Trey has had the chance to learn from some spectacular leaders like Jagger Williamson and Connor Marritt,” says Jason McKee.” This is the next step in his development.”
The 19-year-old defenceman has 30 points in 105 regular season games with the Vipers. the Pod Season could be his last games in a Vipers uniform as he’s committed to Clarkson University in the NCAA in 2021-22.
He said the main thing is not to let the ‘A’ on the uniform change you as a player, or a person.
“I think when someone is recognized and gets a letter and changes the way they play or changes who they are it defeats the purpose of the letter,” Taylor said. “I want to continue to be me; laugh, joke and have fun playing this amazing game. I am excited for this process and more importantly get the chance to play.”
The Vipers haven’t had as long a look at Carpendale, who joined the team late last season, but the forward who spent the last three seasons in the higher-level Western Hockey League (WHL) has made his impact felt in his limited time with the Vipers.
Coach McKee called Carpendale a leader on and off the ice who can be a “tone setter” for this squad.
Carpendale said he’s up for the challenge.
“I’m looking forward to getting things going. It’s an honour to be a part of this leadership group.”
Barafo is the only player of the four who hasn’t yet played a game for the Vipers. However, his point total in his five WHL seasons speak for itself.
“Seth has seen a lot of things in his career,” McKee said. “This shortened season will see a lot of challenges and his experiences should help our team.”
“It’s a huge honour to be a part of this leadership group,” said Bafaro. “Everyone has been waiting a long time to get to this point. We’ve got to come together and get off to a good start.”
The Vipers will open up the 2021 Pod Season on Good Friday (April 2) at 7 p.m. when they take on the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.