The Vernon Viper den has been more like a beehive of late.
Completing their third B.C. Hockey League trade in less than a week, the Vipers paired up with the Penticton Vees for a rare deal, sending forward Jedd Soleway to Penticton for forward Dexter Dancs.
The last time the clubs made a bargain was in October 2003 when Vernon sent d-man Jason Blucke to Penticton for future considerations.
At 6-foot-2, 208 pounds, Soleway was Vernon’s largest forward and perhaps the owner of the team’s hardest shot. The 18-year-old Vernon native was fifth in team scoring with 5-11-16 in 26 games.
“It was a little surprising, but definitely if you’re going to pick another team in the BCHL it would be Penticton, so I think it’s exciting for sure,” Soleway told Black Press.
“They know how to win hockey games; I want to be a part of that. Hopefully I can help them out, score and be physical.”
The 6-foot, 165-pound Dancs lit up the Junior B loop last season with the Osoyoos Coyotes, racking up 67 points (29-38) in 42 games. He and Yotes’ teammate Alex Jewell, a Vernon product, earned a call-up from Penticton, joining the club on its march to a RBC Cup national title.
“I’m really excited to be part of the Vipers,” said Dancs. “The team is a lot better than their record shows. Every time we played them it was a good game. They’re probably one of the hardest teams we played all year.”
Not only does Dancs earn immediate inclusion on the Morning Star’s annual all-name list, he is committed to the NCAA Division Michigan Wolverines for 2014-15 and is listed as a ‘C’ prospect on NHL Central Scouting’s list for the 2014 draft.
“I just like to use my size and skating ability and move my feet to create opportunities for myself and my teammates,” said Dancs.
“I’m sort of a power forward, but I need to fill out more. I like to use my reach to beat defencemen.”
The 17-year-old made his Viper debut Thursday as Vernon (10-11-0-6) entertained the Trail Smoke Eaters (12-18-0-1) at Wesbild Centre.
While the Vipers will miss Soleway’s brute force, Dancs adds some speed up front and perhaps a little more offensive upside.
“It’s a hockey trade that works for both sides,” said Vipers’ head coach/GM Jason Williamson. “It gives Jedd an opportunity to get away from home and play, and Dexter is a highly touted kid we’ve had our eye on.
“We recruited him in the summer and we’re going to expect big things from him. He’s a big left-shot guy and we needed to add that to our lineup.”
Dancs has only five points – two goals, three assists – in five games with the Vees’, however, Williamson projects those numbers will increase as he develops. He has also witnessed first-hand that Dancs can play with an edge when necessary.
“Dexter can play that way too,” said Williamson. “He fought Pearce Eviston in one of the games we played this year.”
Penticton head coach/GM Fred Harbinson agreed that a change of scenery might be in both players’ best interest.
“We were trying to find how we could get the most out of him (Dancs), trying to see where he would fit,” said Harbinson.
“We’re getting a little older player out of it, a little bigger. That’s kind of what we were looking for.
“He’s (Jedd) a hard competitor. He’s another big body that can play the middle of the ice. Whenever we play against him he plays real hard and he’s just a physical specimen.”
Williamson began his forward corps shakeup last week, sending Mitch Van Teeling to Manitoba’s Dauphin Kings for future considerations. That freed up space on his 22-man roster for the acquisition of 20-year-old Andrew Tegeler to join the den from the NCAA UMass Minutemen.
Tegeler, a product of Sewell, N.J., is expected to make his Viper debut tonight in West Kelowna against the Warriors (11-8-1-6) at Royal LePage Place.
Vernon hosts the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (15-10-0-4) Saturday at Wesbild.
SNAKE BITES: The annual Kiss FM Teddy Bear Toss goes Saturday night. Fans are encouraged to bring a stuffed toy to throw on the ice for the Vipers’ first goal…Vernon’s Curtis Lazar scored twice in the Edmonton Oil Kings’ 6-2 loss to the host Lethbridge Hurricanes in WHL play Wednesday night. Lazar has 12 goals and 22 points in 29 games.
With files from Emanuel Sequeira of the Penticton Western News.