A rather difficult January just got even worse for the Vernon Vipers.
The B.C. Hockey League team first paid last respects to longtime owner Duncan Wray. Then they lost captain Jagger Williamson and winger Keyvan Mohktari to concussions.
Once alone in first place, the Vipers are 5-5 in January and share the league lead with the Penticton Vees.
Now, they’ve lost NHL-rated right winger Josh Prokop for the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder he suffered when he fell awkwardly with four seconds left in Sunday afternoon’s game in Trail.
“He’s going to need surgery so he will be out for six months,” said Viper head coach Mark Ferner. “It’s a huge loss; he’s a very good player. 2018 hasn’t been good to us.”
Prokop originally hurt the shoulder Nov. 25 in West Kelowna when checked from behind by Warrior defenceman Jake Harrison, who was assessed a boarding major but no suspension.
He was feeling some discomfort earlier this month and missed a trip to Prince George to rest the injury.
Prokop, who turned 18 on Tuesday, compiled 21 goals and 37 points in 48 games with Vernon. He and teammate Brett Stapley played in the Canadian Junior A Hockey League Prospects Game last week in Mississauga, Ont. in front of 200 NHL scouts. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Prokop is an Edmonton product who now calls Vernon home.
The Vipers, who host the Merritt Centennials tonight, have summoned forward Elan Bar Lev Wise from Burnaby Winter Club Midget Prep. The 5-foot-10 pounder has rang up 15 goals and 46 points in 26 games. This will be his fourth game with the Vipers. He celebrates his 17th birthday Friday.
Meanwhile, the league has suspended Alberni Valley Bulldog winger Tyler Vanuden four games after reviewing video of his check from behind on Williamson Saturday night at Kal Tire Place. Williamson suffered two cuts to his head and immediately went into concussion protocol. Williamson and Mohktari are both on Injured Reserve.