It was a bad news turns into good news situation Thursday for the Vernon Vipers.
GM/head coach Jason Williamson headed to the Kelowna International Airport to pick up centre Adam Tambellini and defenceman Kevin Guiltinan, both released following Team West tryouts in Calgary.
Team West will defend its title at the World Junior A Hockey Challenge, Nov. 5-11 in Yarmouth, N.S. Team Canada West plays an exhibition game Saturday in Barrington, N.S. against the U.S.
Their first round-robin game is Tuesday against the Czech Republic.
Winger Aaron Hadley was the lone Viper to make the roster. He joins fellow returning forwards Alex Kerfoot (Coquitlam Express), Brandon Morley (Coquitlam Express), Evan Richardson (Powell River Kings) and defenceman Troy Stecher (Penticton Vees).
While the 17-year-old Guiltinan was in especially tough against mainly older blueliners, Tambellini, a B prospect for next year’s NHL draft, was a big surprise cut.
“They must have overthought things on Tamby,” said Williamson. “I don’t get that one. I’m happy for Hads. He brings an element not many players have. He’s hard-nosed, old school, and it’s pretty special for him to go for another gold medal.”
Penticton has four players on the team (Stecher, Wade Murphy, James De Haas and Mike Rebry), while the Express have three (Kerfoot, Morley and Zach Pryzbek) as do the Kings (Richardson, Jonah Imoo and Luke Ripley). There are 15 BCHLers on the 22-man roster.
The lineup was selected by Canada West head coach Dean Brockman (St. Benedict, Sask./Humboldt, SJHL), along with assistant coaches Jason McKee (Irma, Alta./Spruce Grove, AJHL) and Ryan Smith (Headingley, Man./Selkirk, MJHL) following a four-day selection camp at the Markin MacPhail Centre.
Hadley will miss the next four Viper games, starting tonight when Trevor Fitzgerald, Colten Dahlen and the Nanaimo Clippers visit Wesbild Centre.
While the Vipers welcome having Guiltinan and Tambellini around for the next 10 days, they will also say hello to winger Braeden Russell, a member of Team East in last year’s World Junior Challenge.
Russell, a 6-foot-3, 205-pounder, badly injured his thumb in a fight, in a preseason game versus the Wenatchee Wild. He scored 30 times over two seasons (77 games) with the Ontario Junior League Oakville Blades.
“He’s a big body and he should be able to put the puck in the back of the net for us,” said Williamson. “He scored in that game against Wenatchee. He may be a little rusty. We’re going with 11 forwards so if he plays well, he’ll get more ice time.”
Forwards Colton Sparrow (neck) and Brenden Persley (ankle) are on injured reserve.
The Vipers enjoyed spirited practices this week following their biggest win of the season Saturday night over the Chilliwack Chiefs. They visit the Trail Smoke Eaters Saturday night.
Rookie forward Craig Martin, a Trail product, visited Cornell University in New York last Sunday and didn’t return home until Wednesday night due to flight delays caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Martin, a 17-year-old who produced 45 goals and 96 points with the Junior B Beaver Valley Nitehawks last year, still has flydowns remaining to Michigan Tech and Penn State.
Meanwhile, the RBC Cup host committee has extended the deadline date to Dec. 31 for Viper season-ticket holders to take advantage of special pricing for the 2014 Royal Bank Cup.
Originally, the deadline was Oct. 15 for season ticket holders to get the 13-game ticket package for just $150. After Dec. 31, the standard package rate will be $199 for all purchasers. A VIP package sells for $399.
Said RBC Cup chair Mike Lane: “We wanted to be fair to our local fans. If fans in other towns can get the earlybird rate until Dec. 31, our fans should be offered the same arrangement.”
Viper fans who purchased their earlybird packs by Oct. 15 will be offered a free single-day VIP package.