Ben Gamache (left)

Vipers grab Gamache from Oilers

The struggling Vernon Vipers made a major deal on Grey Cup Sunday.

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

night.

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

Oilers.

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

year.

“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

website.

“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

personal goals.”

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

in Okotoks.

“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

offence.”

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

in Longlac.

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

Friday night.

 

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