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BCHL Next Generation: Vernon Vipers

In the weeks leading up to the start of the 2022-23 season, we will be going team-by-team to profile new players coming in for the upcoming year. This will include recaps of offseason commitments and acquisitions, as well as scouting reports from the coaches.

We will start with the Interior Conference. Next up is the Vernon Vipers.


The Vernon Vipers finished the 2021-22 campaign seven games over .500 with a 27-20-4-3 record, good enough for sixth place in the Interior Conference, but they dropped their first-round series in five games to the West Kelowna Warriors.

The team’s head coach and general manager Jason McKee got right to work this offseason, adding a whopping 14 new players to the roster so far. Heading into his fourth season at the helm of the Vipers, he has plenty of work to do to weave the team’s new talent into the roster and get them acclimated to the league and the city.

McKee joined us to talk about the new additions.

New recruits

Dylan Compton (2005, D)

  • Hometown: Victoria, B.C.
  • Previous team: Shawnigan Lake School U18 Prep (CSSHL U18)
  • College commitment: Northeastern University

Compton was named the CSSHL’s Top Defenceman last season after piling up the most points by a CSSHL blueliner with 46 in 36 games. He also led the league in assists from the back end with 38, which was fourth overall among all skaters.

McKee’s scouting report:

“He’s an elite level player. He was recruited by various leagues and programs throughout the last couple years because of his really high ceiling. He can affect the game in so many different ways. His vision is tremendous. He can see though the layers. He’s able to make plays under pressure and, with the speed of the BCHL, he’s got the threshold to draw pressure and make those plays in small areas.”

David Brandes (2004, D)

  • Hometown: Toronto, Ont.
  • Previous team: Holderness School (USHS-Prep)
  • College commitment: Sacred Heart University

Brandes had the most points among any defenceman on his prep school team, finishing the year with 24 in 25 games. He also potted eight goals, which was the most among Holderness blueliners as well.

McKee’s scouting report:

“He’s a very smooth-skating defenceman with elite level edge control and speed. He really sees the game and pushes the pace. He should be a really good fit in the BCHL with those abilities. When people watch this young man, they’re going to remember the way he moves his feet and the way he skates. We expect him to be able to transport the puck out of our end quickly, either through a good first pass or using his elusiveness and skating to beat that first forechecker.”

Revelin Mack (2002, F)

  • Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska
  • Previous team: Kimball Union Academy (USHS-Prep)

Mack was the second leading scorer at Kimball Union in New Hampshire in 2021-22 with 50 points in 32 games. His 22 goals were the second most on the team and his 28 assists were third.

McKee’s scouting report:

“He’s a big, strong centreman and he’s a right shot, which was something we were missing. He’s also versatile because he can play right wing as well. He’s definitely on the radar of some Division I teams, so he’s in the process of going through that right now. He was maybe a little off the board to start last year, but with the impact he was making, we felt he could add depth to our group. He comes from a great program and we’re excited to have him here in Vernon.”

Conner Chalmers (2003, D)

  • Hometown: Windham, N.H.
  • Previous team: Kimball Union Academy (USHS-Prep)
  • College commitment: University of Maine

Chalmers played the past four years at Kimball Union. In 2021-22, he tied for the team lead in scoring from the back end with 27 points in 33 games, while scoring the most goals among defencemen with eight.

McKee’s scouting report:

“He really sees the ice well and will be able to make plays out of his own end. He’s run a power play the last couple years, so we expect him to come in and bring some offence from the back.”

Kurt Gurkan (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Darien, Conn.
  • Previous team: Phillips Exeter Academy (USHS-Prep)
  • College commitment: Yale University

Captain of his prep school team in 2021-22 in his fourth year at Phillips Exeter Academy, Gurkan led the way in most offensive categories, finishing first in goals (20) and points (38) among teammates, as well as tying for the most assists (18).

McKee’s scouting report:

“He’s a really hard worker. He’s another guy that brings good leadership skills, which is really important. He’s an energy guy. The guy never takes a shift off. He brings energy and is hard to play against with his tenacious ability. He also has the skillset to match it. His ability to take pucks away from other players is what I like the most about his game and, once he has it, he’s able to do good things with it.”

Julian Facchinelli (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Woodbridge, Ont.
  • Previous team: The Frederick Gunn School (USHS-Prep)

Facchinelli was his team’s leading scorer in 2021-22, averaging exactly one point per game with 35 in 35 contests. His 15 goals and 20 helpers were both second most among teammates.

McKee’s scouting report:

“He’s a really great kid. I got to know him through the recruiting process. He brings energy. He loves the game and loves to be at the rink. He’s a tremendous skater who understands the game. He’s a well-rounded player who can play up and down your lineup. He’s well-regarded among his former coaches and teammates. He’s another kid who we expect to come in and contribute right away to a lot of different areas of the game.”

Hank Cleaves (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Riverside, Conn.
  • Previous team: Brunswick School (USHS-Prep)
  • College commitment: Dartmouth College

In his third season at Brunswick School in Connecticut, Cleaves broke out offensively in a big way, finishing just one point back of the team lead in scoring with 39 points in 40 games, as well as just one back of Brunswick’s top goal scorer with 17 goals.

McKee’s scouting report:

“He’s another big, strong centreman. He has very good leadership skills. We expect him to come in and make an immediate impact. He has the ability to get up and down the ice. He should be a factor on our power play. As a 19-year-old, he should be able to matchup against other teams’ top lines as well. We’re expecting a big year from Hank.”

William Blackburn (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Dorval, Que.
  • Previous team: Kimball Union Academy (USHS-Prep)

The third player from Kimball on our list, Blackburn was a standout there the past two seasons. He averaged over a point-per-game in 2021-22, totaling 33 points in 32 games on 14 goals and 19 assists.

McKee’s scouting report:

Will is a big, heavy power forward. As a 19-year-old, we expect him to contribute in all areas right away. He learned tremendous leadership skills from the program in Kimball Union. He’s one of those guys that can affect the game in a lot of different ways beyond the scoreboard. We wanted to get heavier and bigger in the offseason and Will is a big part of that.”

Max Seguin (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Orleans, Ont.
  • Previous team: St. Andrew’s College (CAHS)

Seguin put up 10 goals and 25 assists for 35 points in 43 games at St. Andrew’s last season.

McKee’s scouting report:

“He’s not a flash and dash guy, but a really solid player along the wall and he goes to the front of the net. All his offence is created through hard work. He’s very responsible defensively and has a good stick. He was used extensively on the penalty kill last year and at the net-front on the power play. He’s a real nuts and bolts guy that plays the game hard and honestly.”

Isaac Tremblay (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Sherbrooke, Que.
  • Previous team: Mount Academy Saints U18 (CSSHLE U18)

Tremblay had an incredible season with Mount Academy last year, finishing his year with 62 points in 26 games, leading the team in scoring by 24 points and finishing second overall in the league. By year’s end, he was named Most Valuable Player of his league and led his team to a championship.

McKee’s scouting report:

“He was a go-to guy on his team. His skating is very good, but his best attribute is his playmaking. He’ll need to put on some muscle and strength over the next couple years, but with his skating ability, I think he’s going to be able to create separation. Once he gets away from his man, he’s able to see the play and make the play.”

Ludovik Tardif (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Quebec, Que.
  • Previous team: Upper Canada College (CPSHA)

Tardif led his team in scoring in 2021-22 with 26 points in 14 games. His 13 assists were also most on the team, while his 13 goals were tied for top spot.

McKee’s scouting report:

“He’s a high-end skill guy who skates extremely well. He has the ability to create separation with his speed and he has a really good shot. He’s scored at every level he’s been at. There definitely will be a transition period for him early, but he has a skillset that is hard to teach. With his vision, his skating and his shooting, he has all the raw tools.”

Justin Chaput (2003, D)

  • Hometown: Montreal, Que.
  • Previous team: Westminster Prep (USHS-Prep)

Chaput produced five goals, seven assists and 12 points over 26 games last year.

McKee’s scouting report:

“He’s a very well-rounded player. He can affect the play in a lot of different ways. He skates and gets up the ice. He’s very competitive and hard to play against. We’re looking forward to adding that to our back end.”

Dane Westen (2003, D)

  • Hometown: Castle Rock, Colo.
  • Previous team: Salisbury School (USHS-Prep)

Westen had four goals and six assists for 10 points in 28 games for Salisbury last year.

McKee’s scouting report:

“He’s a big, strong defenceman. He takes pride in his own end in stopping cycles and blocking shots and he’s very difficult to get around one-on-one. He’s always getting a piece of guys. That’s something that we didn’t have in our recruiting class, so he’s unique in that way. He understands his role and how valuable it is. He can bring in some secondary offence as well, but he’s really good in his own end.”

Acquired via trade

Brock Krulicki (2002, F)

  • Hometown: Wellesley, Ont.
  • Previous team: Kemptville 73’s (CCHL)

Krulicki was a big-time point producer in his first season of Junior A hockey with Kemptville of the Central Canada Hockey League last year. He notched 53 points in 55 games to tie for the team lead in scoring. His 25 goals were also tied for most among his teammates. The Vipers acquired him in a trade on July 3.

McKee’s scouting report:

“From our standpoint, we believe he’s on the brink of a real breakout year. Not that he hasn’t been productive in the past, but we’re expecting him to take that next step and Brock is as well. He was looking for a different opportunity in the BCHL and, with the amount of turnover on our roster, we thought it was necessary to add a veteran forward that has played some games at the junior level and help guide our game up front. He’s a tremendous young man and will be really good fit here in Vernon.”

Photo credit: Dave Watling (Compton), Dan Hickling (Brandes, Mack, Chalmers, Gurkan, Facchinelli, Cleaves, Blackburn, Seguin, Chaput, Westen)