Persley returns to Viper den

Brendan Persley returns to Viper den after two-year stint in WHL.

The Vernon Vipers welcomed back a familiar face Friday night as they hosted the Salmon Arm SilverBacks.

Brendan Persley, who played a handful of games with the Snakes as a 16-year-old in 2009-10, rejoined the B.C. Hockey League team after he parted ways with the WHL Victoria Royals earlier this week.

The Kelowna native displayed the gritty style he is known for, playing effectively on a line with Peter McMullen and Marcus Basara in Friday night’s 3-2 overtime loss.

The six-foot, 195-pounder had a goal and 18 penalty minutes in nine games this season with Victoria. He racked up eight points and 62 penalty minutes in 43 games with the now-defunct Chilliwack Bruins last season.

“As an 18-year-old I wasn’t playing too much and thought it was the right decision to make a move,” said Persley. “I just want to play some good hockey; that’s what I’m excited for.

Added Vernon head coach/GM Jason Williamson: “He’s a guy that makes you harder to play against. He also has some offensive upside and hopefully he can bring that back.”

To make room for Persley, Williamson removed injured defenceman Luke Juha from the roster.

Having made just one deal in the preseason, Williamson has plenty of cards to work with before the Dec. 1 carding deadline, where teams are reduced from 45 to 25 player cards.

But with a full 21-man roster, plus Juha and injured captain Pat McGillis, who is also not on the roster, Williamson will be looking to make a move before the deadline.

“They (players) can read the writing on the wall. I’ve stockpiled some assets and I’m ready to package some guys up.”

Persley is obviously familiar with Williamson from his earlier tenure with the Vipers, but he also has a good rapport with first-year Vipers’ assistant coach Chris Shaw, who coached him with the KIJHL Penticton Lakers.

While disappointed with how his WHL journey ended, Persley credits his time in the league for improving his overall game.

“There’s a lot of systems involved. It’s a really structured game,” said Persley. “It got my speed faster and helped me get my hockey sense back.”