Wild first for Vipers Sept. 28

The Vernon Vipers get first dibs at the expansion Wenatchee Wild in the annual Bauer B.C. Hockey League showcase in Chilliwack.

The Vernon Vipers get first dibs at the expansion Wenatchee Wild in the annual Bauer B.C. Hockey League showcase in Chilliwack.

The teams will meet Saturday, Sept. 28 (3:30) at Prospera Centre to open their regular seasons.

Vernon faces the Cowichan Valley Capitals on the Sunday morning (10:00).

Wenatchee was accepted as the BCHL’s 17th franchise a month ago after seven years in the North American League. The Vipers visit the Wild’s gorgeous 4,300-seat Town Toyota Center in November.

Wenatchee will be in Vernon for the Vipers’ final regular-season game in late February. The official schedule will be released next week.

This year’s showcase begins on a Thursday rather than a Friday as in years past. This will allow 16 of the 17 games scheduled to be played on the main ice sheet at Prospera Centre.

“I know this will be appreciated by fans and scouts alike,” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale. “The scouting community has responded overwhelmingly to each of the first three showcase events and we expect the same this season, with as many as 200 talent evaluators taking in the games representing the NHL and collegiate levels.”

Over the last three seasons since the advent of the showcase, the league has averaged 137 players per season with some form of college commitment.

“That translates into about $2 million to BCHL families annually in financial benefit toward a college degree.”

Meanwhile, the NHL Entry Draft starts today in Florida with Viper grads Liam Finlay and Thomas Aldworth on the final list of prospects.

Aldworth is rated No. 195 and Finlay  199 in the final Central Scouting  Bureau rankings (North America skaters).

The first round goes today at 4:30 p.m. Pacific time. (live on TSN).