Martin latest Kootenay kid to sign with Bobcats

Vernon Viper forward Craig Martin signs with NCAA Quinnipiac Bobcats.

Craig Martin has spent most of the season in a cast, but that hasn’t stopped college scouts from seeking his offensive skill set.

The Trail native is keeping the Kootenay connection alive with the Quinnipiac Bobcats, signing with the NCAA Division 1 club for the 2014-15 season.

The Vernon Viper forward follows a trio of former B.C. Hockey League snipers – Montrose twins Connor and Kellen Jones, and fellow Trail product Travis St. Denis – in joining the Hamden, Conn.-based school.

“I’m pretty excited,” said Martin, who also had flydowns to Cornell and Michigan Tech. “The campus is very nice and all the guys are great. It had the right feeling.

“They (Joneses and St. Denis) had nothing but great things to say about it and I trust them a lot.”

Martin has missed the Vipers’ last 16 games after suffering a broken ankle when he took a Ryan Renz point shot off the foot in a Nov. 17 game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. The good news for the Snakes is he is skating again and is expected back in the lineup within a couple weeks.

“He was just starting to come into his own when he got hurt,” said Vipers’ head coach Jason Williamson. “He scored some pretty amazing goals.”

Added Martin: “It’s been way too long. Now I can get back to conditioning.”

Martin drew a lot of scouting attention after he averaged nearly two points per game (48-48-96 in 50 games) as a 16-year-old in the KIJHL with Beaver Valley Nitehawks. He has five goals and six assists in 22 games with Vernon.

“It was a bit of a rough start but things were coming along,” said Martin. “It was just a terrible time for the injury as I was just starting to heat up a bit.”

Williamson is confident the talented forward will continue his Junior B success in the BCHL.

“His best hockey is yet to come,” said Williamson. “He’s a guy we’re going to lean on as soon as he’s healthy down the stretch and into next season.”

Meanwhile, the Vipers jumpstart a three-game Vancouver Island road trip tonight against Mike Vandekamp’s Nanaimo Clippers (21-14-0-2) at Frank Crane Arena.

They visit the last-overall Cowichan Valley Capitals (9-23-1-3) Saturday night and conclude their Island excursion with a Sunday matinee against the first-overall Victoria Grizzlies (26-9-0-4).

“It’s good to get on the road after all the distractions (trades) last week, and maybe this team can bond a little bit,” said Williamson.

In BCHL action Wednesday night, Jay Deo backstopped the host Bulldogs to a 5-4 overtime win over the Grizz with a 57-save showing at Weyerhaeuser Arena.

Teal Burns led the 18-14-1-5 Dawgs with two goals and an assist, and Ryan Lough scored with one second left in a Pearce Eviston tripping penalty to force OT.

The West Kelowna Warriors crept to within a point of the Merritt Centennials after their 3-2 win over the host Cents at Nicola Valley Arena.

Ex-Viper Marcus Basara paced the Warrior attack with a pair of goals. Vernon product Tyler Steel had 19 saves in the loss.

SNAKE BITES: The Vipers have called up North Okanagan Knights forward Morgan Johnston for their Island tour…Burns has the rare distinction of having played for every single Island team, as well as the Powell River Kings.