A pair of Vernon Vipers were chosen in Round 7 of the 56th NHL Entry Draft on the weekend at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Centre Brett Stapley was selected by the Montreal Canadiens, while goalie Ty Taylor is now the property of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Stapley, a 5-foot-10, 170-pounder with magical hands, rang up 27 goals and 59 points in his third B.C. Hockey League season with the Vipers. The Campbell River product has an NCAA Division 1 scholarship with the University of Denver Pioneers. He was chosen 190th overall.
“I just got a call from (executive vice-president-GM) Marc Bergevin and he said, ‘We got ya, congratulations,’” said Stapley, in Denver taking some summer courses. “I was looking at the draft a little bit on my computer. It’s a pretty exciting day. I phoned my family and they’re really excited.”
Stapley’s roommate in a house off-campus is Wenatchee Wild defenceman Stanislav Demin, who was chosen 99th by the Vegas Golden Knights.
“That was pretty cool,” said Stapley, 19. “There are a bunch of freshmen living together in one of the juniors’ house taking courses.”
The crafty Stapley was a Vancouver Canucks fan growing up, “but I guess that’s changed now.”
He turned some heads in physical testing a few weeks ago in Montreal.
“I went to the pre-draft combine and met with all the Montreal scouts and management. We had some good talks and I did well in the physical testing.”
Taylor, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound Richmond native, won the league’s Top Goalie award after going 23-5 with a 1.87 GAA and .931 save percentage. Taylor tied a league record with seven shutouts. He will be a crease cop with the University of New Hampshire Wildcats next year. He was the fourth-last player taken in the amateur lottery, at No. 214.
Taylor was at his parents’ home in Richmond when learned the awesome news.
“I was watching it on TV and then there was a commercial and my advisor (Scott Bonner) text me. It was kind of crazy. My mom and dad were losing it. I think my mom was more excited than I was. I was in shock. I didn’t know how to react.”
Taylor, who turns 19 the day after U.S. Independence Day, leaves Sunday for New Hampshire.
“I really wanted to get drafted so this is a pretty good day. Stacy Roest (of Vernon, Tampa’s Director of Player Personnel) phoned me and congratulated me. That felt pretty nice.”
On the Bolts’ website moments after Taylor was selected, was: “The Lightning end their draft taking a second goalie to go with Magnus Chrona. Taylor played with the Vernon Vipers in the BCHL last year and put up good numbers but again, that doesn’t mean too much. This is another late round flyer and gives the organization another player in the goalie pipeline.”
Penticton Vees D Jonny Tychonick won the inaugural John Grisdale Awards as the highest-drafted CJHL player when he was plucked 48th by the Ottawa Senators, who had Vernon-based scout George Fargher at the draft table. Tychonick is committed to the University of North Dakota. The Penticton product helped the Vees win the Fred Page Cup as a 16-year-old two years ago.
Kelowna blueliner Seth Barton of the Trail Smoke Eaters landed with the Detroit Red Wings 81st overall. Vernon-based scout Marty Stein was the Wings’ table with GM Ken Holland, who was born and raised in Vernon. Barton will play at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and is currently set to leave for school in 2019.
Power forward Jasper Weatherby of the Wild, the BCHL’s MVP out of Oregon, went to the San Jose Sharks 102nd overall. The league’s leading scorer will be a teammate of Tychonick’s at North Dakota next season. In the fifth round, at No. 126, the Senators came calling again when they selected Langley Rivermen forward Angus Crookshank of North Vancouver.