Viper trio skates for Canada West

Vernon Viper trio makes final cut for Team Canada West and will compete at World Junior A Challenge

The Vernon Vipers will be short on firepower tonight at Wesbild Centre, but so will their guests the Penticton Vees.

The Vipers learned Tuesday afternoon all three of their Canada West hopefuls – defencemen Brett Corkey and Luke Juha, and forward Aaron Hadley – made the team and will remain in Langley for the World Junior A Hockey Challenge, Nov. 7-13.

In their place, Vipers’ head coach/GM Jason Williamson will call up forward Cole Sanford from the KIJHL Revelstoke Grizzlies and defenceman John Saunders from the KIJHL North Okanagan Knights.

The Vees also have a trio on the Canada West roster – defenceman Troy Stetcher and forwards Travis St. Denis and Curtis Loik – while the Minnesota-born duo of d-man Mike Reilly and forward Mario Lucia will compete with Team U.S. at the six-team tourney.

In total, there are 14 B.C. Hockey League products on head coach Kent Lewis’s 22-man roster. The remainder are from the Alberta (7) and Saskatchewan (1) leagues. No players from the Manitoba or Superior International loops made the final cut.

“Getting down to 22 players was by no means an easy decision,” said Lewis, head coach of the BCHL Powell River Kings. “We had some tremendously talented players in camp, and they did not make our jobs easy as a coaching staff. We’re excited about the players we’ve selected and look forward to getting started.”

Canada West will play in Group A, joined by Sweden and the U.S., while Canada East, the Czech Republic and Russia will comprise Group B.

Preliminary round play will run until Wednesday, Nov. 9, with both semifinals taking place Friday, Nov. 11. The gold medal game, which will be shown nationally on TSN, Sunday, Nov. 13.

All round-robin games, quarterfinals, semifinals and the bronze-medal game can be seen live online at hockeycanada.fasthockey.com.

Canada West has advanced to the championship game in four of the five World Junior A Challenges, winning gold in 2006 in Yorkton, Sask., and 2007 in Trail, before settling for silver in 2008 in Camrose, Alta., and 2009 in Summerside, P.E.I. It finished fourth last year in Penticton.