The City of Vernon and the Vernon Vipers were named a pod city in the BC Hockey League’s recent return to play. The Vipers, Salmon Arm Silverbacks and West Kelowna Warriors will play out of Kal Tire Place in a shortened season starting this Friday.
In this article, I will preview each of the three teams in the Vernon pod and how each team finished in the exhibition season and some of the key players added to the teams.
Salmon Arm Silverbacks
"We are thrilled to get our players back in the spotlight & give them the attention they deserve."
A shortened 2020-21 season has been approved!
— Salmon Arm Silverbacks (@SASilverbacks) March 12, 2021
Salmon Arm made the second round of the playoffs last season before it was shut down due to COVID-19. The Silverbacks had swept the crossover Victoria Grizzlies and were set to play the Trail Smoke Eaters.
The Silverbacks finished last fall’s exhibition season with a record of 3-9-1 for seven points and fourth in the Okanagan Cup standings. The Backs lost in the semifinals of the Okanagan Cup, 5-2 against the Penticton Vees.
During the exhibition season, Salmon Arm was 1-3 against West Kelowna and 0-2-1-1 against Vernon.
Salmon Arm added 2004-born Thompson Blazers U18 AAA forward and local product Aidan Lindblad for the upcoming season. The Silverbacks also added 18-year-old Julien Recine from the Ottawa Jr. Senators of the Central Canadian Hockey League.
The club also has the son of three time Stanley Cup winner and Hockey Hall of Fame member Mark Recchi on the squad. Recchi’s son Cameron played in seven exhibition games but didn’t register any points.
West Kelowna Warriors
NEWS: The @BCHockeyLeague has announced the 20-game schedule for the 2021 season!
We begin our season against the @SASilverbacks on Saturday, April 3rd.
— West Kelowna Warriors (@BCHLWarriors) March 24, 2021
In the 2020 Fred Page Cup playoffs, the Warriors lost in five games in the first round to the Penticton Vees.
During the exhibition season, West Kelowna finished second in the Okanagan Cup standings with 15 points and a record of 7-5-0-1. The Warriors fell in the Okanagan Cup semifinals to the Vernon Vipers with a 2-0 loss.
In games versus the two other pod teams, the Warriors went 4-0 against Vernon and 3-1 against the Silverbacks.
West Kelowna has a healthy mixture of veterans and rookies on its roster this year. With returnees like Elan Bar-Lev-Wise, Tyson Jugnauth and newly acquired Chase Sandhu from the Langley Riverman, the Warriors look to better their sixth place finish in the Interior Division from 2019-20.
The POD to watch!! Kal Tire Place…schedule coming soon!
Vernon, Salmon Arm & West Kelowna – LET'S GO! pic.twitter.com/ZJhWjPZjAu
— VernonVipers (@VernonVipers) March 17, 2021
Before the shutdown of the season last spring, the Vipers were going to play their arch rivals in what looked to be another sizzling chapter in their storied history.
After knocking off the Wenatchee Wild in five games, the Vipers were set to face the Penticton Vees in the second round of the Fred Page Cup playoffs. The Vipers and Vees hadn’t met in the playoffs since 2017 in what was a seven game barn-burner that went to Penticton.
The host Vipers finished the exhibition season with a 2-0 loss to the Vees in the championship game of the Okanagan Cup.
In match-ups against the two other pod teams, Vernon went 0-4 versus the Warriors and 3-1 against the Silverbacks during exhibition play last fall.
Vernon has lost some key pieces since the exhibition season ended. The Vipers lost Will Arquiett to the Aberdeen Wings of the North American Hockey League and Josh Prokop to the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League, among others.
However, the Vipers gained defenseman Seth Bafaro from the WHL’s Vancouver Giants and still have most of their key players from the exhibition season set to get things started this Friday for a 20-game sprint.