Vernon Vipers’ head coach and director of player personnel Mark Ferner watches a scrimmage during the B.C. Hockey League team’s annual spring camp at Kal Tire Place. (Lisa Mazurek/Morning Star

Vipers’ sale rumours heat up

Ferner goes into camp without a contract

While strong rumours persist that the Vernon Vipers are about to be sold, Mark Ferner heads to main training camp Monday morning without a contract but ready to start picking his team.

The six-time national Junior A champion Vipers lost their longtime owner Duncan Wray in January when he died in his sleep, at age 68. Wray’s widow, Libby, assumed the ownership and governor’s role. Libby is attending her daughter Erika’s wedding this weekend on Vancouver Island.

Ferner, head coach and director of player personnel, says the uncertainty is hurting his recruiting and the image of the franchise. Speculation around town is that a group of businessmen from out of town has made an offer to purchase the team.

“I don’t know if it’s for sale or not and nobody (coaches and staff) has a contract,” said Ferner. “I’ll be trying to put the best team on the ice but it’s tough because of the uncertainty of the hockey team. I know the Wray family owns the team now, but are they selling? The league says the coaches have to have a contract.”

Deemed one of the best coaches in the Canadian Junior A Hockey League, Ferner has long used his contacts across North America to land top-end talent. The Penticton Vees annually battle the Vipers for some of the same recruits.

“I’ll be at the rink Monday and we’ll take it from there,” said Ferner, unsure if assistant coaches Kevin Kraus or Kevin Pedersen will return because of the turmoil.

Ferner has invited 52 players with the goalie session officially jumpstarting camp at 9:30 a.m. Hour-long defence and forward drills follow with Team Red holding practice from 4-5 p.m. and Team Gold facing Team Blue in a 5:30 p.m. scrimmage.

“We have some solid recruits coming in and they better be good,” said Ferner. “They can come to camp, but they have to work hard and make our hockey club.”

Team Red and Blue will attend an education seminar Tuesday at 9 a.m. while Team Gold practises. Team Red battles Team Blue at 10:30 with Team Gold in class at the same time.

There will be three scrimmages Wednesday starting with Gold vs Blue at 8 a.m.

Camp ends Thursday with morning practices and a Blue-White scrimmage at 6 p.m., followed by exit meetings with the coaches.

Vipers go in NHL draft

The Vipers open the exhibition schedule next Friday in Merritt against the Centennials. Vernon entertains Merritt Saturday at 6 p.m.

The Snakes visit the Salmon Arm Silverbacks Friday, Aug. 31 and host the Gorillas the next night.

Vernon opens the regular season Friday, Sept. 7 against the defending league champion Wenatchee Wild.

Meanwhile, Hockey Canada has named Surrey Eagles head coach Brandon West and Merritt Centennials head coach Joe Martin as assistants with Team Canada West for the 2018 World Junior A Challenge (WJAC).

The event goes Dec. 9-15 at the R.J. Lalonde Arena in Bonnyville, Alta. The team’s head coach will be Rick Swan (Bonnyville Pontiacs, AJHL) who was an assistant on the 2017 squad under Mike Reagan. Martin, who was also an assistant along with Swan last year, and West will both play key roles in Team Canada West’s effort to repeat as gold medalists.


@VernonNews
sports@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Western Canada’s only Military Tattoo returns to Vernon

The 6th annual tattoo is slated to take place July 27-28 at Kal Tire Place in Vernon.

Athletes helping athletes

While the Vernon Christian basketball team have their own games to play this weekend, they took time out of practice Tuesday to volunteer.

JUNO nominated band visits Vernon and Penticton

Tim and The Glory Boys will perform in Vernon March 9.

Special Olympic B.C. Winter Games continue in Vernon

Events conclude today. Check out what’s happening.

Nearly 200 new businesses for Greater Vernon in 2018: Chamber

Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce says nearly 200 new businesses in 2018

Athletes hit the slopes for the final day of SOBC

The awards ceremony for all alpine skiing events took place this afternoon at the SilverStar Village Podium.

Lehner posts 4th shutout as Isles blank Canucks 4-0

Vancouver drops third game in a row

Pink Shirt Day a reminder to ‘T.H.I.N.K.’ before posting on social media

‘Be Kind’ message on shirts sold for anti-bullying activities of Wednesday, Feb. 27

A ‘warm embrace’ for grieving parents at funeral of seven young fire victims

Mourners offered love and support to Kawthar Barho, mother of seven children

One of B.C.’s newest citizens reflects on the value of immigration

“People who come by choice to another country will do everything to contribute to that country.”

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

UPDATE: Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Team BC sitting 4th at Canada Winter Games after 1st week

Team BC ringette featuring Kelowna’s Brooklyn Keller finished 4th

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Most Read