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Revisiting how Matt Kowalski joined the Vernon Vipers


Trades in hockey are not all cut and dry. It can lead a player on a journey from team to team until he finds a home. One former Viper had quite the journey to end up in Vernon, involving three trades and three different players. Here is the story of how Matt Kowalski became a member of the Vernon Vipers.

First Trade – Nanaimo to Salmon Arm

On Jan. 10, 2017, Nanaimo acquired forward Josh Blanchard from Salmon Arm for future considerations. At the conclusion of the 2016-17 season, it was announced that Kowalski was the futures in the deal, and his rights transferred from the Clippers to the Silverbacks.

He had spent a season and a half in Nanaimo after signing with the team in December 2015. Over the course of 56 games with the Clippers, Kowalski posted 16 points.

Where Are They Now?

Josh Blanchard – After being traded, Blanchard’s BCHL career didn’t last long. He played 16 games for the Clippers in 2016-17, finishing with six regular season points and a single point in the playoffs.

Second Trade – Salmon Arm to West Kelowna

When it was revealed that Kowalski was the futures to the Nanaimo-Salmon Arm trade from Jan. 10, 2017,  the Silverbacks flipped him to West Kelowna in another deal.

He was sent to the Warriors in exchange for Salmon Arm native Logan Mostat. It was the first time Kowalski would play in BC’s Interior since he skated with the Okanagan Rockets U18 AAA of the BC U18 in 2015-16.

Kowalski played in 43 games over two seasons with West Kelowna and had 27 points.

Where Are They Now?

Logan Mostat – After his trade to Salmon Arm, Mostat played in 36 games in 2017-18 and had 16 points for the Silverbacks.

In June 2018, he committed to play at Vancouver Island University in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League but didn’t play a game with the team. Mostat is now working as a floor installer in Salmon Arm.

Third Trade – West Kelowna to Vernon

For the third time in his BCHL career, Kowalski was traded but this time he was coming home. The Vernon native was acquired by the Vipers in exchange for defencemen Austin Chorney on Nov. 14, 2018.

Where Are They Now?

Austin Chorney – Chorney was traded to West Kelowna for Kowalski and had eight points in 33 games to wrap the 2018-19 season. Chorney played the first three-quarters of the 2019-20 season with the Warriors, where he had seven points in 39 games.

He was moved at the 2020 trade deadline, this time to the Cowichan Valley Capitals in exchange for defenseman Maxime Dumas. After arriving in Cowichan, Chorney had two points in 15 games before COVID-19 shut down the season.

As a 2000-born player, Chorney will play his final BCHL season with the Capitals once the 2020-21 season starts.

Matt Kowalski – Kowalski found a home in Vernon. He played 35 games after the trade from West Kelowna and had 30 points on the strength of eight goals and 22 assists. He also had another 13 points in 21 playoff games as Vernon went all the way to the Fred Page Cup final against the Prince George Spruce Kings.

The hometown kid became a fan favourite during this season as he notched big goals at big times. He scored the triple-overtime winner in the opening round of the playoffs to eliminate the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

In the final year of his BCHL career this past season, Kowalski played in 58 games and had 61 points, the highest point total in his career. Kowalski also had another four points in five post-season games before COVID-19 shut it down.

Kowalski is committed to playing U SPORTS hockey for Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He has yet to play as the ongoing pandemic kept U SPORTS teams from playing this fall.