Netminder Danny Todosychuk squares up for a shot from Michael Roberts during a drill in Vernon Viper training camp Wednesday afternoon at Wesbild Centre.

Netminder Danny Todosychuk squares up for a shot from Michael Roberts during a drill in Vernon Viper training camp Wednesday afternoon at Wesbild Centre.

Goalie battle heats up at Vernon Viper camp

Trio of netminders battle for two roster spots with the Vernon Vipers for the coming B.C. Hockey League season.

A trio of talented goalies, and only two positions available on the Vernon Vipers’ roster.

It has come down to a race between returning keeper Danny Todosychuk, a Vernon product who backed up Kirby Halcrow last season, Boston-area native Joe Young and Austin Smith, who played with the WHL Swift Current Broncos last season.

Smith, the oldest of the three at 19, seems to have pulled ahead in the starter sweepstakes after backstopping Vernon to a 5-1 win over the West Kelowna Warriors in B.C. Hockey League exhibition action Tuesday night at Royal LePage Place.

“Our goaltending, until last night, hadn’t been great,” said head coach Jason Williamson.

“Austin Smith, fortunate for us, we dragged him out of the Western Hockey League and he’s been the frontrunner for us. The other two are going to have to battle it out.

“Like I told these guys, just because you played here last year doesn’t mean you’re going to play here this year. Our job is to make sure we put the best 22 guys on the ice.”

Both Todosychuk and Young are 1994-born goalies, and while Todosychuk might hold the inside track as a returnee, Young comes with considerable credentials. He was listed at No. 31 on NHL Central Scouting’s final player rankings for North American goalies last season.

Todosychuk went 6-3 with the Snakes last season, recording a 3.19 goals against average and .895 save percentage. He doesn’t take his role for granted, and adds he learned a lot as a rookie.

“It was a good eye opener to realize where my game’s gotta go to make an impact in this league,” said Todosychuk.

“There’s three guys all vying for spots right now so it should be good. I’ve just got to keep going out there and stopping the puck every time.”

Smith went 3-7-1 as a backup with the Broncos last season, posting a 3.73 GAA and .885 SAV. When Swift Current drafted 19-year-old Finnish netminder Eetu Laurikainen 20th overall in the 2012 CHL Import Draft, he realized which direction the team was heading.

“I made the decision to come here – with Swift’s permission – because I wanted out and wanted to play somewhere else,” said Smith, a Calgarian who had originally asked to be traded to another WHL team.

“I hope to make a good impression. I feel confident in my abilities and know I can play.

“I’ve got a few training camps under my belt. It’ll be nice to hopefully give the guys some pointers and be a leader out here.”

Young was 9-6-6 (2.33 GAA, .932 SAV) with the Under 18 Boston Advantage.

In Tuesday’s win, Adam Tambellini powered the Vernon offence with a hat trick, while spark plug Riley Hunt and Joe Serpico added singles.

“Yeah, the kid can play,” said Williamson, of Tambellini. “He scored three goals no one else in the league, no one on this team, can score.”

Captain Max French converted on a West Kelowna powerplay.

Williamson was left with some difficult cuts as his team prepares for another home-and-home exhibition set, this one against the Salmon Arm SilverBacks, starting Friday night at the Shaw Centre. The ‘Backs visit Wesbild Saturday night (7:00).

Williamson released defencemen Nick Josephs and John Saunders, and forwards Eric Chore and Kurt Hildebrand Wednesday afternoon. He has three more cuts to get down to his 22-man roster.

“They are definitely starting to make my decisions harder,” he said.

Vernon opens its regular season with a pair of games at the inaugural BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack. They face the defending Royal Bank Cup champion Penticton Vees Saturday, Sept. 8, and the coastal champion Powell River Kings, Sunday, Sept. 9 at Prospera Centre.

All 16 BCHL teams will be in action at the Showcase.

The BCHL announced the hiring of Trevor Alto as the league’s new executive director.

Alto, a White Rock native, comes to the BCHL after six years in the financial industry and replaces outgoing director David Sales. He is responsible for executing all league sponsor deliverables, generating new partnerships, heading the league’s finance committee and overseeing day-to-day administration. In addition, the 33-year-old is tasked with applying the BCHL’s discipline regulations.

A former Prince George Spruce King, Alto went on to play with the UBC Thunderbirds (2000-03) while he completed studies in sports management and commerce. While playing at UBC, he appeared in the movie Miracle where he portrayed Team USA forward Neal Broten.

Vernon’s Jared Seutter has committed to the Selkirk College Saints for the coming B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League season.

Seutter joins the Saints from the KIJHL Chase Heat, where he was captain during the franchise’s expansion year. The 5-foot-10 winger scored eight goals and totalled 25 points and 46 penalty minutes in 48 regular-season games, while earning the team’s Unsung Hero and Most Sportsmanlike Player awards.