The Vernon Vipers narrowly missed beating eventual champs Penticton in last season's Interior Conference semi-finals series. Six months later, they're determined to take their 2008/09 season a few steps further.
Smarting from the loss of 56-goal scorer Hunter Bishop, the Vipers have added a number of offensive weapons to an already potent squad. Joining Kellen and Connor Jones up front for Vernon are rookies Corey Kane, Ryan Santana and Mike Collins — a trio of offensively gifted players that head coach Mark Ferner has high expectations for.
“Corey is a big kid and a good skater,” Ferner says. “I wouldn't say that I've been pleasantly surprised, because I knew what he was capable of entering camp, but he's looked very good.”
“Ryan's work ethic is second to none, and Mike is a very skilled player from Boston who we think could be a good fit with the Jones twins.”
But even with a number of returning players and some highly-touted rookies coming to training camp, Ferner was determined to make every potential Viper earn their spot on the team.
“We planned on having a very competitive atmosphere in camp,” he says. “The message was that no position was safe, and the guys responded. There were lots of chances to impress in-house and we got to see just how competitive the players were.”
So what can Vipers fans expect from their team in the season ahead?
“We're going to be hard to play against,” Ferner says. “We're going to be built for a seven-game series, but I think we also have more skill. I'm expecting a big season.”