(This article was originally published on Nov.16, 2020.)
Rob Short is a Vernon Vipers legend who played with the team from 2006-10. He also played in seven games as an affiliate player during the 2005-06 BC Hockey League season.
During his career, he won two national junior A titles and broke the Vipers record for most games played. He is one of only two Vipers to have his jersey hanging in the rafters at Kal Tire Place in Vernon. Short’s career was cut short due to an injury but he still managed to play professional hockey before hanging up his skates for good.
Short first played for the Vipers in the 2005-06 season. The right-winger played in seven games but spent the majority of the season with the Sicamous Eagles of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
In 2006-07, Short played in his first full season with the Vipers. He had five goals and 12 assists for 17 points in 54 games as a rookie. The Coldstream, BC product also put up four points in the playoffs to help lead Vernon to an Interior Division championship.
During the 2007-08 season, Short had 36 points in the regular season and had another three points in the playoffs as the Vipers lost to Penticton in the division final.
Back to back RBC Cups
In the 2008-09 season, Short played in 56 games and had 34 points. He also added 16 points in the BCHL’s Fred Page Cup playoffs and scored a goal in Vernon’s four game sweep of the Doyle Cup against the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Grande Prairie Storm.
The Vipers went all the way to the RBC Cup final and beat the Humboldt Broncos 2-0 to capture the franchise’s fifth national title. Short was clutch in the national tournament with two goals and four assists in six games.
The following season, the Vipers finished on top of the BCHL standings with 46 wins and as a 20-year-old, Short had a breakout season with 50 points in 52 games. He also set a career high in playoff points with 12 in 19 games.
He notched a goal and an assist during a seven game series win over Spruce Grove of the AJHL in the 2010 Doyle Cup. The Vipers once again went all the way to the RBC Cup championship game and beat the Dauphin Kings 8-1. It was the organization’s sixth title, the most by any junior A team in Canada. Short finished with two assists in six games at the tournament.
Short left Vernon as the team record holder for the most games played in a Vipers uniform with 229. The record stood until Jagger Williamson broke it during the 2018-19 season.
In 2010, just four months after graduating from the Vipers, Short was given one of the biggest honours a player can get. He became the first Vernon Viper in team history to have his jersey retired. His number 20 was hoisted to the rafters in front of a packed house in Vernon as the Vipers played the Penticton Vees.
It wasn’t until 2016 that the Vipers retired another jersey number. This time it was Chris Cromwell’s number 18. Short and Crowell remain the only two Vernon players to have their jerseys retired.
Short turns pro
Rather than play college hockey after his BCHL career, Short split time between two teams in the Southern Professional Hockey League during the 2010-11 season. He played 26 games with the Pensacola Ice Flyers and had 12 points and 15 games for the Louisiana IceGators and also scored a dozen points.
The following season, he was re-signed by the IceGators and played a full season in the SPHL. Short found his stride in Louisiana and put up 47 points in 51 games. He was also loaned to the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees of the Central Hockey League for two games and had no points.
In the 2012-13 season, Short continued playing with the IceGators. He had another successful year with 49 points in 51 games. He also added five points in six playoff games.
In the offseason, Short was traded in the SPHL to the Peoria Rivermen. Before he could even play a game for the Rivermen, he was involved in a scary incident in practice.
Short crashed into the boards and sustained multiple fractures and dislocations in his neck and back. Fortunately, he was able to make a full recovery, but his hockey career was over.
Despite the untimely end to his hockey career, Short’s name goes down in history as one of the most prominent to ever play for the Vernon Vipers.