Vernon Vipers’ forward Marcus Basara (left) receives instruction from head coach Jason Williamson. Basara

Vernon Vipers’ forward Marcus Basara (left) receives instruction from head coach Jason Williamson. Basara

Vipers head to West camp

A sixpack of Vernon Vipers are among 24 B.C. Hockey Leaguers headed to Team Canada West’s evaluation camp for the World Junior A Challenge.

A sixpack of Vernon Vipers are among 24 B.C. Hockey Leaguers headed to Team Canada West’s training camp for the World Junior A Challenge.

Defencemen Geoff Crisfield, Brett Corkey and Ryan Renz, along with forwards Marcus Basara, Aaron Hadley and Adam Tambellini will be at the five-day evaluation camp starting today in Canmore, Alta.

The six-team tournament, featuring teams from Western and Eastern Canada, U.S., Czech Republic, Russia and Sweden, goes Nov. 7-13 in Langley.

The 60 Canada West players will be divided into three teams – black, red and white – and will play a series of intra-squad games, in addition to daily practices.

Tambellini, a rookie forward and son of Edmonton Oilers’ GM Steve Tambellini, was thrilled to learn of his camp invite.

“It’s exciting, especially with me being a rookie. I’d never heard of it before and I just got the call the other day so I’m excited to go and see what it’s all about. Just to wear the jersey would be unbelievable. It’s a great opportunity any time you get the chance to wear the Canadian maple leaf on your chest,” he said.

Added Basara, a second-year forward: “I’m looking forward to going to camp and giving myself the best chance to get on the team. It should be fun.”

As returning Vipers, Basara, Corkey, Renz and Hadley are all too familiar with Canada West’s head coach, having faced Kent Lewis’s Powell River Kings in the BCHL Fred Page Cup final last season (the two teams have met in each of the last three finals).

Lewis stepped into the Canada West head coaching vacancy left by former Viper bench boss Mark Ferner after he departed to work with the WHL Everett Silvertips.

“We knocked them (Kings) out of the playoffs, which was a cool series. It’ll be fun to go an meet him and the rest of the guys going to camp,” said Basara.

Lewis assembled the camp roster with help from assistant coaches Dean Brockman (Humboldt Broncos, SJHL) and Andrew Milne (Canmore Eagles, AJHL).

“There is a tremendous amount of talent to choose from in Western Canada, and we’re excited about the 60 players we’ve invited to camp,” said Lewis. “These players represent the best of Junior A hockey in the west and fans in Canmore are in for a treat when they take the ice.”

The camp roster is comprised of six goaltenders, 18 defencemen and 36 forwards. After the BCHL, the next largest contingent comes from the AJHL (17). There are 10 players from the SJHL, five players from the MJHL and four players from the SIJHL.

Craig Bokenfohr (Camrose Kodiaks), Rhett Holland (Okotoks Oilers), Sam Jardine (Camrose), and Travis St. Denis (Penticton Vees) are the only four returning players from the 2010 tourney.