The Vernon Vipers have added a bevy of new players, in an effort to strengthen their depth for the upcoming BCHL season.
Maks Percic, a six-foot-two-inch tall right shot defenceman has signed with the club. The Slovenia native had 12 points in 32 games for the Kiekko-Espoo U20 team of the Finnish league.
“Maks is a very strong, mobile defender that we expect to make an immediate contribution in a lot of areas to our hockey team next season,” said Vipers head coach and general manager, Jason McKee.
The 19-year-old has already committed to play for Michigan Tech University for post-secondary in the 2024-25 season.
“I’m really happy to join the Vernon Vipers,” said Percic. “I can’t wait to start the season.”
The Vipers have also signed former Wenatchee Wild defender Lukas McCloskey.
“Lukas is a veteran presence that played heavy minutes for Wenatchee down the stretch last year,” said McKee. “Lukas comes highly recommended and we are thrilled he has chosen Vernon for his continued development.”
McCloskey, from Newport Beach, California, had one goal and nine assists in 46 regular season games with Wenatchee last season. He also tallied three assists in 10 playoff games to help the Wild upset Cranbrook in the first round of the playoffs.
The Wild are no longer a BCHL club, after the Winnipeg Ice of the WHL was bought and sold to Wenatchee, replacing the BCHL version of the team and leaving several players free to sign with other organizations.
“Sometimes change happens when you least expect it, but having said that, I’m extremely excited and grateful to be playing for the Vipers,” said the six-foot-three-inch tall right shot defenceman. “I’m looking forward to joining the group in September.”
Vernon struck a trade with the Langley Rivermen on Thursday, receiving forward Owen Kim and Walker Gelbard in exchange for Luke Ashton and Copeland Fricker.
Kim is a veteran of the BCHL, playing in 103 games while Vancouver-born Gelbard has 108 games under his belt with Langley and Cranbrook. This was the second trade between the two clubs during the offseason, after the Vipers traded away forwards Max Borovinskiy and Thomas Tien for future considerations on June 14.
Also joining the team for next season are forwards George Stavrianeas, Owen King and Shea Busch and defenceman Nick Larkin.
The Vipers home opener is Sept. 23 against Cranbrook.