Vipers announce coaching change

The Vernon Vipers have announced they have named Jason McKee as their next head coach and general manager.

McKee, from Lloydminster, Alta., was most recently the head coach of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants from 2016 to 2018 and previously coached the Spruce Grove Saints of the AJHL for 10 years, including six seasons as head coach and general manager.

He was also an assistant coach for Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge in 2012 and was head coach in 2013, earning a silver and bronze medal.

“We are excited to welcome Jason, along with his wife Carey-Ann and daughters Brianna and Brynn to the Vipers,” said executive vice-president Todd Miller in a release from the team. “It is an exciting time for the Vipers organization and the addition of Jason McKee’s passion, leadership skills and winning tradition completely align with our vision for the future.”

McKee will take over a Vernon team that is coming off a deep playoff run where they made it all the way to the Fred Page Cup finals.

He will be replacing Mark Ferner who coached the team for eight seasons over two separate stints, including the last four years as head coach and director of hockey operations. Ferner led the Vipers to three straight Fred Page Cup titles from 2009 to 2011 and won back-to-back national championships in 2009 and 2010.

According to the release, the Vipers have extended an offer for Ferner to remain in the organization in an alternate role.