Vernon Viper captain Riley Brandt has been issued a 10-game suspension by the B.C. Hockey League.
Brandt, who has been suspended once prior in 157 regular-season games, was penalized by the league for a hit on Merritt’s Michael Van Unen in a game Saturday night at Kal Tire Place. Brandt received a charging major and two game misconducts after the referees huddled. Neither the front or back official originally called a penalty on the check.
“It’s an automatic four games and we are appealing the 10 games,” Viper head coach Mark Ferner told The Morning Star from the team bus late Thursday morning.
“I’ll wait the 48 hours in the appeal process before commenting further.”
Ferner did say it is not clear in the video whether Van Unen struck his head on the glass after absorbing the check.
“It wasn’t a blindside hit and the kid put himself in a bad spot standing there watching the play. The initial point of contact was shoulder to head so the rule is muddy in that it becomes a penalty if the player hits his head on the glass or the ice afterwards.”
Brandt is a 5-foot-8, 195-pounder who is feared throughout the league for his heavy hits. The 19-year-old Trail product has five goals, 11 points and 34 penalty minutes this season.
Meanwhile, the Vipers have agreed to release forward Derek Osik to the Chilliwack Chiefs so they can get down to the maximum 22-man roster. Osik, 18, of Boston, had two goals and five points in 18 games.
Forward Nick Rasovic has come off injured reserve and will play for the Vipers on a three-game road trek starting tonight in Duncan versus the Cowichan Valley Capitals. Rasovic, 20, of Port Moody, is a three-year veteran.
Meanwhile, the three latest Vipers earning NCAA Division 1 scholarships are naturally stoked about their puck futures.
Philadelphia defenceman Michael Ufberg will join the Princeton University Tigers in two years.
“Princeton’s in my backyard at home, about 30 minutes away from the my house so it’s always kind of been my dream school,” said Ufberg, at Wednesday’s matinee practice. “Obviously the Ivy League part of it being an all-American academic institution means a lot to me.”
Ufberg, a powerplay specialist with marvellous offensive moves, talked to the Tigers’ past staff two years ago and met the new coaches this year.
“We‘ve been in contact since the (BCHL Bauer) showcase and last year a little. It’s an honour that they stayed interested in me. I’ll probably study economics,” he said.
D-man Chris Jandric plays a similar style to Ufberg and will also wait two years before he lands in Alaska with the Fairbanks Nanooks. His older brother, Steven, has also committed to the Nanooks. The Jandrics are from Prince George.
”We were talking to them at the Showcase and the wanted to fly us down that so we decided to do that,” said Chris. “We looked at the campus and we liked the coach and everything so it was all good.”
The Vipers are 9-7-2 and 10 points behind the Interior Divison-leading Penticton Vees. The Caps are 10-7-2-1 and third in the Island Division.
Vernon meets the second-place Victoria Grizzlies (11-3-2) Saturday night at the Q Centre and finish their trip with a Sunday 4 p.m. tilt in Surrey against the 4-11-2 Eagles.
“This is definitely a good bonding trip, with the ferry across the Island. It should be a big weekend for us,” said Chris Jandric. “We’re sitting second and we want to keep that spot.”
Chris plans to study criminology at Fairbanks in hopes of joining his grandfather as a police officer.
Steven Jandric said the flydown to Fairbanks, which has a surrounding population of nearly 100,000, was awesome.
“It was beautiful up there. The hockey program’s good and the coaches and guys are great so we thought it would be a great fit for us. I wanna go next year. They said it’s up to me. It depends on how much work I put in over the summer. If I’m there or here, I have to be ready for the season.”
Steven will take courses in mining and engineering.
SNAKE BITES: The Vipers held a combined American/Canadian Thanksgiving dinner Tuesday night at a billet house…Quin Foreman supplied 2+1 as the West Kelowna Warriors grounded the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 4-2 Wednesday night before 777 fans at the Shaw Centre. There were fireworks at the final buzzer with Parm Dhaliwal and Braiden Epp of the Warriors and Josh Blanchard and Spencer Hora of the Silverbacks given fighting majors. Ryley Booth of the Gorillas took a double roughing minor, while Epp was assessed a major for speaing and teammate Stephen Kleysen got crosschecking and roughing minors.