Snakes face steady learning curve for upcoming campaign

The Vernon Vipers are 4-0 in B.C. Hockey League preseason play, but it might be a bit soon to predict a 51-6-0-3 run like they had last season.

The Vipers’ Aaron Hadley (right) shields the puck from the SilverBacks’ Charlie Vasaturo in B.C. Hockey League play Saturday night at the Sunwave Centre. The Vipers shaded the SilverBacks’ 4-3 to finish their BCHL preseason schedule at 4-0. See Zalewski on B3 Continued from B1

The Vernon Vipers are 4-0 in B.C. Hockey League preseason play, but it might be a bit soon to predict a 51-6-0-3 run like they had last season.

With 16 players lost to graduation and college commitments, the Snakes are experiencing their largest personnel turnover in four seasons. Viper head coach/GM Mark Ferner says it would be unfair to expect a repeat of last year’s Royal Bank Cup success, but notes he isn’t about to lower the bar.

“There will be a lot of teaching going on in the next couple weeks, making sure that everyone is very aware of the expectations and responsibilities,” said Ferner, entering his fourth year behind the Viper bench along with assistant coach Jason Williamson.

“We have to be patient with them, but at the same time the expectation doesn’t change. We have a lot of work to do.

“We like our group – it’s young, we’re going to have some growing pains, but we have a good group of kids here.”

Following the Vipers’ 4-3 win over the Salmon Arm SilverBacks Saturday night at the Sunwave Centre, Ferner trimmed his roster down to 24 men. He will have to make one final incision before now and the Snakes’ regular-season opener against the SilverBacks Friday night at Wesbild Centre.

Released are netminder Tyler Steel of Vernon, 6-foot-5 defenceman Austin Sture (Anchorage) and forwards Tanner Cochrane (Kamloops) and Adriano Munglioni (Dallas).

The two teams collide again Saturday at Sunwave.

Charlie Vasaturo opened the scoring Saturday with a powerplay goal at 17:00 of the first period, assisted by Morgan Zulinick and David Killip. Vernon stormed back 90 seconds later as Gus Correale capped a play with Taylor Love and Tanner Cochrane.

The Vipers’ Mike Zalewski netted the first of his two goals early in the second period, assists to Trevor Fitzgerald and Aaron Hadley.

“It was a better game. It was more of what both sides were expecting,” said Ferner. “(Friday) night, there wasn’t a lot of intensity or a lot of plays being made. It was pretty sloppy on both sides.”

Dave Robinson made it three unanswered Viper goals at 8:17 of the second period, assisted by Dylan Walchuk Greg Maarschalk sends the ball back via a killer backhand.

Robinson, who wore #18 with Vernon last season, will be sporting Connor Jones’ old #10 for his final year of Junior A.

“I asked permission first and he said he would rather me wear it than someone who doesn’t know him,” smiled the Viper captain, who played on a line with Connor and twin brother Kellen Jones as 16-year-old call-ups before joining the WHL Chilliwack Bruins.

“That’s the number I grew up wearing until I got to Chilliwack, so it’s nice to finish off my last year of junior with it.”

The SilverBacks jumpstarted the home crowd just 58 seconds into the third period as Jarryd Ten Vaanholt pulled Salmon Arm within a goal.

The Gorillas’ Brandon Mistal equalized at 4:44, but Zalewski, a New Hartford, Conn. native, recorded the winner at 13:58, assisted by Fitzgerald.

Vipers’ incumbent Blake Voth (26 saves) and the SilverBacks’ Kris Moore (33 saves), acquired in the offseason from the Camrose Kodiaks, went the distance in net.

When asked what this year’s edition of the Vipers will look like, Ferner grinned: “Good question. It’ll be a while before we get that chemistry, it’ll be a while before we know what we’re doing in every situation as far as systems are concerned.”

Just Posted

Lake Country seniors receive Christmas surprise

Hampers will be given to 20 lucky seniors in need next week

Spirit of Giving

Vernon Elks Club makes Christmas merry for several groups

Protocol Technologies acquired by Edmonton company

F12.net in Edmonton buys Vernon-based Protocol Technologies

Big news for Falkland tv show

British Columbia TV show hit 42 + million American households

Lumby ‘elves’ help kids make Christmas magical

Organizers of Elves Shelves say 2017 was their “best year yet”

All aboard the Summerland Christmas Express

The first train of the Summerland Christmas Express schedule.

All aboard the Summerland Christmas Express

The first train of the Summerland Christmas Express schedule.

Meningococcal clinics open this Sunday

Interior Health is stepping up efforts to get young people vaccinated against Meningococcal.

Update: RCMP arrest domestic assault suspect west of Kamloops.

The RCMP Emergency Response Team made the arrest at around 4:30 p.m.

Owl found dead after eating rat poison leaves B.C. woman concerned

After finding the owl on her Surrey property, Christine Trozzo says the poison is a concern for kids

Change to CPP death benefit panned as insufficient to cover funeral costs

Funeral Services Association of Canada lobbied governments to raise the value to $3,580

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of sexual harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

Column: Make it a green Christmas

Instead of purchasing a cuddly stuffie this year, put your money towards helping the real thing.

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

Most Read