Mark Ferner has solved his crease cop situation. Now, he’s dealing with an abundance of 20-year-olds and tweaking his defensive core.
After Week 1 of training camp and a pair of exhibition tilts with the Merritt Centennials, the Vernon Vipers head coach/GM has trimmed his B.C. Hockey League roster to 31 players. Ferner will make final releases following two pre-season games this weekend with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
Ferner had already locked up Boston High School star commit Aidan Porter so the goaltending battle really turned into a three-man race won by Aidan Hosein of Halifax (played for St. Andrew’s College last year). Odd men out are Geo Wilson of Halfmoon Bay, B.C. (Pursuit of Excellence, Kelowna) and Johnny Derrick of West Van Academy Prep.
Porter, who has an NCAA Division 1 scholarship to Bentley Warriors near Boston for next season, and Hosein are both 19, while Wilson and Derrick are a year younger.
“All four goalies played great,” said Ferner. “Geo and Johnny can play in this league but I didn’t want to prolong things and keep them here when they have other opportunities. It’s better to have just two goalies in practice because they all want all the shots.”
Ferner, who has 10 returnees, only used three or four veterans as the Vipers shaded the Cents 2-1 Saturday night at Kal Tire Place, 24 hours after winning 3-1 at Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, to open the pre-season.
Teams can only carry six 20-year-olds and the Vipers have seven. Ferner is manning the phones today trying to trade one of his overagers.
Veteran defenceman Mitch Andres of Minnesota sadly said goodbye to his four younger brothers, who were released and are headed to the Steinbach Pistons of the Manitoba Junior League for a tryout.
Vernon minor hockey products Nick Cherkowski (2000 birthday) and Nic Bolin (2001) remain in camp.
Teddy Wooding, a recruit out of Wrentham, Mass., was the only Viper to beat starter Austin Roden in the first period Saturday night. Vernon registered 16 shots on Roden.
Vincent Duplessis barely got into the game before he fished a puck out of his net as Wyatt Andres beat him five-hole.
The Cents, who went with an older lineup, responded in the third period when Mathieu Gosselin banged home a rebound from Brendan Schneider. The Cents pulled Duplessis late in the third for a sixth attacker.
Logan Cash, a commit from Nova Scotia, d-man Kyler Shmigelsky and F Elan Bar-Lev Wise, into an empty net, completed the Viper offence in Merritt. Cash, a left winger, has a scholarship to the University of Vermont Catamounts.
The Vipers visit the Salmon Arm Silverbacks Friday night with the Gorillas here Saturday (6 p.m.) to close the pre-season.
Vernon opens the regular season Friday, Sept. 7 against the defending champion Wenatchee Wild.
SNAKE BITES: Fifth-year F Jagger Williamson is recovering from shingles and Ferner has shut the captain down from practice this week…Mitch Andres, who suffered an eye injury on Day 1 of camp, is on Injured Reserve…Hosein set a Nova Scotia Major Midget League record with seven shutouts two years ago…In exhibition play Sunday, the Trail Smoke Eaters clipped the host Wild 3-2, while the Nanaimo Clippers edged the visiting Powell River Kings 3-2…Viper grad Kellen Jones, who along with twin, Connor, boosted Vernon to Royal Bank Cup titles in 2009 and 2010, has signed a pro contract in Sweden. Kellen, an Edmonton Oiler draft, said his wedding vows two weeks ago. Connor will play a third straight year with the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He got in four games with the New York Islanders two seasons ago…