Viper recruits ready for action

Ryan Renz expected a new home after Monday’s B.C. Hockey League trade deadline. He just didn’t know where he would land.

The Alberni Valley Bulldog defenceman sat at his parents in his hometown Castlegar, waiting to hear the news.

He was initially dealt to the Prince George Spruce Kings in exchange for 1991-born defenceman Mike Puddifant and forward Dylan Nowakowski (‘91), who was acquired in an earlier trade from the Victoria Grizzlies.

The Spruce Kings, the biggest sellers at the deadline, moving their top three scorers (RJay Berra, Nic DeSousa and Justin Fillion), then shipped the 17-year-old Renz to the Vernon Vipers in exchange for winger Todd Skirving and future considerations.

Renz, who grew up with fellow Viper Aaron Hadley, is thrilled to be headed to a playoff contender.

“I was at home, so I knew something was going to happen. When I first got traded to Prince George, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen after that, and then when I got traded to Vernon I couldn’t wait to get here and carry on for the rest of the season,” he said.

Renz joined Alberni from the KIJHL Castlegar Rebels midway through last season and has since earned a NCAA Division 1 scholarship with the Northeastern Huskies. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder is ranked 208th in NHL Central Scouting’s midterm report on draft-eligible players. He recorded 3-7-10 and 38 penalty minutes in 22 games with the Bulldogs this season.

“I bring a physical presence and lots of intensity. I try to improve other players as I improve myself and be a team guy and make an impact each time I’m out on the ice,” said Renz, who skated with Brett Corkey at Viper practice on Wednesday.

The Vipers’ other deadline acquisition, forward Dane Muench, flew in from Saskatoon to meet his new team on Tuesday.

Muench, a Martensville, Sask. native, led the WHL Regina Pats in preseason scoring before battling injury early in the year. He managed two goals and five helpers in 23 games before being assigned to the SJHL Battleford North Stars at the deadline. Vernon picked him up in exchange for future considerations.

“I’m just looking forward to getting in the lineup and getting a feel for the league. It’s a good opportunity,” said Muench, who turns 19 on Wednesday.

“I just want to help out any way I can, wherever the coach puts me.”

The younger brother of former Viper Drew Muench (2006-07), Dane is familiar with the organization’s heritage.

“He said it was a great place to play and that he really enjoyed his time here. Hopefully it will be the same for me,” he said.

Renz and Muench will be in the lineup tonight when the Vipers, second in the Interior at 23-9-4-8, visit the Quesnel Millionaires (11-26-3-4). They face Skirving and the cellar-dwelling Spruce Kings (10-33-0-2) Saturday at the Coliseum.

SNAKE BITES: Former Viper Sahir Gill is rated 139th in the Central Scouting poll. Gill, a Terrace product, is third on the NCAA Boston University Terriers with 4-12-16 in 20 games… The Salmon Arm SilverBacks made the biggest deadline deal, acquiring BCHL scoring leader Mike Hammond (‘90) from the Cowichan Valley Capitals in exchange for forward Matt Cassidy (‘90) and future considerations. The Gorillas (27-14-2-0) trail Vernon by two points… In BCHL action Tuesday night, Vernon native Trent Dorais recorded a pair of goals to earn first star as the host Bulldogs shaded the Grizzlies 4-3 at Weyerhaeuser Arena.