Allen Douglas/Kamloops Blazers

Exploring the second wave of Vipers newcomers


The Vernon Vipers have been one of the most active teams this offseason. So far, the Vipers have recruited five defensemen and eight forwards since the end of last season. The Vipers are going to be a very young team with an average age of 17 at this point.

After recruiting nine players earlier this spring and summer, the Snakes added four more players from recruitments, trades, and signings.

Ayden Third

Third is a lefthanded defenseman from Regina, Saskatchewan. He began his playing career with the Regina Pat Blues U15 AA team of the Saskatchewan U15 AA Hockey League. Third played in two seasons and had 26 points.

He then spent part of 2018 with the Regina Rangers U18 AA of the Saskatchewan U18 AA Hockey League and had his most productive year to date with 33 points in 36 games.

Third spent the 2019-20 season playing for the Regina Pat Canadians U18 AAA team of the Saskatchewan AAA Hockey League, where he had 24 points in 44 games. He also played in one game as an affiliate player for the Humboldt Broncos of Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

According to Vipers head coach and general manager Jason McKee, Third is a defensive defenseman who can also help out offensively. McKee adds that Third is mobile and able to move the puck, which he feels is something important in a BCHL defenseman.

Jarrod Semchuk

The Vernon Vipers acquired Semchuk in a trade from the Bonnyville Pontiacs of the AJHL. He was traded to Bonnyville from Salmon Arm as part of a previous trade that saw the Silverbacks acquire Jeremy Gervais for future considerations. The Kamloops, BC native played in 31 games for the Backs last season and registered three points. Jarrod also played in four playoff games and posted one point.

McKee says Semchuk has the potential to become a high impact player for the Vipers and hopes the 18-year-old benefits from a fresh start in Vernon.

Ryley Appelt

Not only have the Vipers added a young core, but they have also added some veteran leadership. Appelt is one of these players as the Edmonton product spent the last three seasons playing for the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League. Last season, Appelt played in 48 games for the Blazers and had nine points.

McKee says Appelt’s veteran presence will be a big asset to the young Vipers. In a news release announcing his signing, Appelt expressed that he is excited to bring his skill to Vernon.

Luke Pakulak

Pakulak is a forward from Surrey who played for the Delta Hockey Academy Bantam Varsity 2 team in the Canada Sports School Bantam Varsity Hockey League back in 2016-17. He had 19 points in 22 games and another three points in the playoffs.

He continued to play in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League for his second year of bantam and with the Elite 15’s. Pakulak wound up with 30 points in 63 games from 2017-19.

The 2003-born forward spent 2019-20 with the Delta Hockey Academy Prep of the CSSHL, playing in 26 games and scoring eight points with the Wild. McKee says Pakulak is a power forward with the potential to be very effective in the BCHL.

Between the off-season additions and returning veterans, it is interesting to see how the Vipers roster comes together when the puck drops on the 2020-21 season.