A six-game losing skid and 3-5-
0-2 in their last 10 games.
Already 16 points back of the
Penticton Vees, who are averaging
almost six goals a game and
just got back their captain, Logan
Johnston, from a 25-game suspension
in time to ambush the
Chilliwack Chiefs 9-0 Saturday
The defending B.C. Hockey
League champion Vernon Vipers
were in unfamiliar territory and
their fans were getting restless.
Enough embarrassment. Time to
make a change.
Head coach/GM Jason
Williamson pulled off a major
deal on Grey Cup Sunday, plucking
the Alberta Junior Hockey
League’s second leading scorer
Ben Gamache from the Okotoks
The Vipers gave up secondyear
winger Marcus Basara of
Coquitlam (6-11-17) and rookie
winger Connor Hartley of Red
Deer (0-3-3), both 18-year-olds,
along with future considerations.
Hartley played four games with
Okotoks as an affiliate player last
“This was obviously an
extremely tough decision to move
Ben Gamache who is a great
hockey player and was very well
respected in our community, but a
decision that we felt was necessary
for the betterment of the team
and for Ben,” said Oilers’ head
coach James Poole, on the team’s
“We look at this move as a
positive change for Ben and for
our hockey team. Ben will be
going to another great organization
in the Vernon Vipers and will
get a fresh start to achieving his
Gamache, 20, racked up 20
goals, 45 points and 115 penalty
minutes in 32 games with the twotime
defending Southern Division
champion Oilers, who are fourth
at 14-17-0-1 this season.
The 5-foot-8, 195-pounder
was co-captain of the 2008 Telus
Cup national Midget title-holding
Notre Dame Hounds with
Patrick McGillis, now captain of
the Vipers. He pocketed 37 goals
and 86 points in his first two years
“I was kind of surprised and
kind of happy,” said Gamache,
as he rode around town Monday
with McGillis trying to find his
billets’ house. “I needed a new site
and a new place to play and after
one day here, I already like it.”
Gamache rushed from Kelowna
International Airport to Wesbild
Centre for part of the Vipers’
practice Monday morning.
Williamson saw Gamache play
with Notre Dame when the Vipers
were recruiting McGillis and Drew
George (traded two months into
his rookie year).
“We knew what kind of player
we were getting,” said Williamson.
“He’s an energy guy who plays
hard and is captain material (also
wore the C for Okotoks). He competes
and he can score and he’s
a 20-year-old; he’s just what we
need right now. You could tell at
practice this morning that he’s a
good all-round player. He’s a pretty
smart player who is good on the
defensive side and can really go on
The Vipers now have four
20-year-olds and are allowed six.
Gamache makes his Viper debut
tonight in Penticton against the
first-place Vees, who at 21-3-0-2,
are rated No. 4 in the nation.
Gamache, who plays summer
hockey with McGillis in Calgary,
will earn his shower every night
wearing Basara’s old No. 17.
“I hope to bring leadership,”
said Gamache, who hails from
the small, former mill town of
Longlac in northwestern Ontario.
“I’m a pretty physical, in-yourface
guy who goes to the greasy
areas. The front of the net is my
spot. I’m the kind of player who
bangs away at loose pucks. I just
want to help out this team in any
way I can.”
The amiable Gamache, a
Montreal Canadiens’ fan whose
first language is French, comes
with high praise from McGillis.
“He’s hard-nosed and wears his
heart on his sleeve,” said McGllis.
“He’s not afraid to mix it up and
he’s good on the forecheck. We’re
a young team so he will bring
experience and a lot of energy
while leading by example. He’ a
real honest player.”
Gamache, whose parents now
live and work in Yorkton, Sask.,
enjoys racing snowmobiles on the
more than 4,000 kilometres of
trails back home in Ontario. He
also likes ice fishing, hunting and
handling remote model airplanes.
“You can go for years if you
want,” he joked about snowmobiling
He played a lot of baseball
(shortstop) in high school and
now plays fastball in the summers.
His cousin, Trevor Gamache, plays
university hockey for the Lakehead
Timberwolves in Thunder Bay.
The Vipers bowed 3-2 to the
Salmon Arm SilverBacks in overtime,
before 1,220 fans Saturday
night at the Sunwave Centre. It
was the second straight OT loss to
the Gorillas in as many nights.
Kindersley, Sask. product Sean
Flanagan supplied the winner 86
seconds into four-on-three overtime
with Viper d-man Geoff
Crisfield off for hooking.
Adam Tambellini, with his
11th goal of the year, and Aaron
Hadley, with the 2-2 equalizer
midway through the third period
(his fourth), handled the Vipers’
offence in front of Kirby Halcrow.
Shane Hanna and Garrett Hendrickson, two
of three players the SilverBacks obtained from the
Vees in exchange for top scorer Bryce Gervais, both
with their second goals of the season, gave Salmon
Arm a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes. Vernon outshot
the Gorillas 36-26 with Kurt Williams earning the
win and third star. The SilverBacks are four points
back of fifth-place Chilliwack.
“We couldn’t put the puck in the net,” said
McGillis, who was scheduled to view results of an
MRI on his ankle Tuesday. “We deserved a better
fate, but sometimes when you’re losing, you don’t
get the bounces.”
SNAKE BITES: The Vipers were without key
d-men Ryan Renz and Luke Juha, both suffering
from concussions…The Woodstock Slammers of
the Manitoba League and Spruce Grove Saints are
ranked one-two in the CJHL…The Vees have six
players in the top-10 scoring, led by Minnesota
product Connor Reilly, with 22 goals and 49
points…The second-place Merritt Centennials, who
are five points in front of the Vipers, visit Wesbild