There was much doom and gloom around the B.C. Hockey League championship Vernon Vipers coaching office Wednesday morning.
The Vipers, like a father being asked to pick his No. 1 son, traded popular forward Trevor Fitzgerald to the Prince George Spruce Kings, completing a deal which saw defenceman Ryan Renz join the Snakes at the Jan. 10 trading deadline.
Fitzgerald, an 18-year-old Vernon product, compiled seven goals and 18 points in his rookie season after playing for the Vipers at the 2010 Royal Bank Cup in Dauphin, Man.
“Did we want to do this deal? No,” said Vipers’ head coach/GM Mark Ferner. “We kind of got handcuffed because we didn’t have enough defencemen (at the time of the trade). Obviously, Fitzy’s a very good player, a very good teammate and he’s going to be missed.
“It’s unfortunate that we paid a premium price. This is the real lousy part of the business. He was a good player for us. The deeper we got, the steeper the price got.”
Prince George dealt Renz, a 17-year-old Castlegar product who is rated as a late-rounder in next month’s NHL Entry Draft in Minnesota, in exchange for future considerations. The terms were based on how far Vernon went in the playoffs.
“There were a number of players they could have had, but they really wanted Fitzy,” said Ferner.
Fitzgerald will be reunited with his North Okanagan Knights junior B coach – Dave Dupas – in Prince George. Fitzgerald was a 40-goal man with the Knights.
Renz, who will likely put off his scholarship with the NCAA Northeastern Huskies for a year, compiled 4-10-14 in 35 games with Vernon.
Fitzgerald, whose feisty, no-fear attitude made him a fan favourite, says he learned loads under Ferner and Williamson.
“I improved overall with the knowledge given me. I know what it takes to get to a national championship. I learned a lot from the coaches here.”
In another move, the Vipers traded 20-year-old goalie Blake Voth to the North Battleford North Stars of the Saskatchewan Junior League, completing a deal which saw forward Dane Muench land in Vernon at the trading deadline.
The Vipers will return 20-year-old all-star net detective Kirby Halcrow next season.
Meanwhile, former Viper d-man Steve Tresierra of the Merritt Centennials has accepted an offer to play for the Queen’s University Golden Gaels in Kingston, Ont. starting this fall.
Tresierra played all 60 regular-season games in each of the past two seasons for the Cents and established a new personal best this year with nine goals. He amassed 27 points for the second year in a row and finished his BCHL career with 21 goals and 64 assists in 206 games.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Golden, B.C. product played four seasons in the league after beginning his career with the Vipers.
“I think he’ll carry the same thing over to Queen’s as he did for us,” said Merritt head coach Luke Pierce, a Viper grad, on the BCHL website. “He’ll be a leader and someone you can build a program around.