Patrick McGillis

Patrick McGillis

McGillis made captain

The Vernon Vipers have named Patrick McGillis their new captain for the 2011-12 B.C. Hockey League season.

Patrick McGillis likely won’t frame the scorecard from his most recent golf round at The Rise, but he’ll remember the day fondly all the same.

It was up there, while the Calgary native was tackling the challenging course with Vernon Vipers’ head coach Jason Williamson, that he learned he will be the team’s captain for the 2011-12 B.C. Hockey League season.

“It wasn’t my best round, but I had a good time,” grinned McGillis, taking a few minutes from firing pucks at visiting Montreal Canadiens’ netminder Carey Price Monday at Wesbild Centre.

“I was looking forward to coming back either way, with or without a letter, and I think I could be a leader either way.”

In addition to two straight national junior A championship finals appearances (2010 and 2011), McGillis captained the Notre Dame Hounds of Wilcox, Sask. to a Telus Cup Midget crown.

During his tenure with the Vipers, he has had the benefit of some quality tutelage from former captains Kevin Kraus and David Robinson. With both being strong characters that guided their teams to the RBC Cup, he admitted it is a little daunting to be next in line.

“Big shoes to fill, but it’s a challenge I’m definitely willing to embrace. I’ve been captain before, so I know a little bit what it’s like,” said McGillis, who recorded 46 points and 31 penalty minutes in 84 regular-season games.

“I can lead by example with my work ethic, on and off the ice. I can be quiet at times in the dressing room, I can be serious and I can be funny, trying to keep the guys relaxed. They’ll know when I’m serious and know when they need to keep their focus up.”

Out of the eight returning forwards and three returning blueliners, choosing the third-year winger for captaincy was a logical decision for Williamson.

“Patty’s a pretty good kid. He goes about his business to make sure that he does the right thing. He works hard, he’s bided his time and he’s an easy pick for a captain.

“It’ll be a huge year for him, but that’s what we want. We want some guys to run with it and show these guys what it means to be a Viper.”

One aspect of McGillis’ game that Williamson values most is his ability to rise to the occassion. In 16 post-season games last year, the 5-foot-10, 185 pounder was nearly a point-a-game, posting five goals and nine assists.

“He’s been in the finals every year, and Patty plays his best hockey when it’s on the line.”

With training camp starting Thursday, McGillis already likes the blend of prospect and returnees making their way into Vernon for some pre-camp skates.

“We’ll have a deep team – four solid lines and six solid d-men and good goaltending,” he said.

“There’s a lot of new guys, but it doesn’t look like it’ll be a problem because they’ve got good work ethics and good backgrounds.

“There’s a lot of respect for one another on the team, and that’ll be a big thing this year.”

Vipers open main camp Thursday morning, with intra-squad scrimmages going Thursday and Friday night (6 p.m.).

The annual Blue and White game goes Saturday, 6 p.m. Entry will be by donation with proceeds going to the Somalia Relief Fund.