The Vernon Vipers

The Vernon Vipers

Vipers to enter hockey shrine

The 1998-99 national champion Vernon Vipers will be inducted into the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame in July.

They looked down and out sitting at 0-3 in preliminary play at the 1999 Royal Bank Cup in Yorkton, Sask.

The Vernon Vipers, however, rallied to win their final round-robin game and then ambushed the Charlottetown Abbies 9-3 in the final for the franchise’s fourth national Junior A hockey title in 10 years.

The Vipers, jumpstarted by the KGB line of Tyler Knight, Ryan Bayda and Lanny Gare, will enter the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame at an induction dinner July 22 at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton.

“That was a pretty special group,” said Viper owner Duncan Wray. “I remember we lost our first three games in the round-robin and everyone was asking, ‘What the heck was going on?’ We didn’t have the answers, but the team re-grouped and won their next three games.”

The Vipers won the league title at 52-6-2.

Troy Mick was the Vernon head coach and Joe Oliver his assistant. John Bradley, a towering Kamloops product who was obtained in a trade late that B.C. Junior Hockey League season, was named Top Defenceman at the RBC.

Kelowna’s Lennie Rampone was the Viper captain, while alternates were Kori Davison, Kelly Sickavish and Joel Bresciani.

Bayda was the lone player from that team to play regularly in the NHL after being drafted in the third round by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2000. Bayda got in 179 NHL games and is now playing in Germany.

“We were a skilled team that could play any style necessary.” said Rampone. “Just one of those special seasons that you will never forget.”

The Vipers dispatched the Chilliwack Chiefs in five games for the BCJHL title and then upended Dany Heatley and the Calgary Canucks 4-1 for the Western Doyle Cup.

At the Royal Bank Cup tournament, Vernon lost 4-2 to Bramalea Blues of Ontario, fell 6-5 to the Abbies and lost 3-1 to the Yorkton Terriers before finishing the round-robin by bouncing the Estevan Bruins 3-2.

The Vipers clipped the Blues 3-2 in the semifinals.

“When I look back it was such a closeknit bunch of guys,” said Mick. “Even when we were down 0-3 to start the RBC, they never quit. They really did love to play for each other and I think this is why even today we are a close group. We even did an oldtimers tourney in Vegas a few years ago which was hilarious as Lennie was my d-man and still did his dirty hipcheck routine down there, and then we also had a 10-year reunion in Vernon where most of the guys came.

“I will always remember carrying the RBC trophy into the Civic Arena from the bus we called the Pickle and seeing all of the unreal Vernon fans standing and cheering the whole time, and with me having grown up in Vernon, it was even more special that I could give them something back like an RBC title.”

Gare, Davison, Josh Reed and Spence Gilchrist were Vernon minor hockey products on the team. Goaltenders were Derek Gustafson and Chris King with Gustafson still holding the team record for wins with 39 that year.

Gustafson spent nine years in the minors, including two American League seasons with the Houston Aeros. He got in five NHL tilts with the Minnesota Wild.

Rampone, Knight, Scott Krahn and Kenny Magowan were all from Kelowna.

Gare (46 goals, 111 points), Knight (34 goals, 83 points) and Bayda (24 goals, 82) points were a dynamic line blessed with speed and creativity.

Gare is in his eighth year of pro hockey in Germany after four years in the minors, while Knight spent two years in the minors. Bayda, from Saskatoon, is in his sixth year of pro hockey in Germany.

Former Vernon Lakers’ d-man Murray Baron will also enter the shrine. Baron, a Prince George native, spent 988 games with five NHL teams after being chosen in the eighth round of the 1986 draft by the Flyers,

Retired NHLer Brendan Morrison (Penticton Panthers of the BCJHL) will also be inducted in the players section.

Brian Barrett (Merritt Centennials) and John Grisdale (commissioner of the BCHL) will go in as builders along with longtime Canucks’ trainer Pat O’Neil.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oliver
A couple more South Okanagan schools with COVID-19 exposures

Penticton Christian School adds more exposure days, Oliver Elementary new on the list

The City of Penticton’s temporary permit expired at Victory Church so the province took over. The city said the location, near seniors’ homes and downtown shopping, is inappropriate. (Jesse Day Western News)
Special meeting Monday in Penticton to go over appropriate shelter locations

No-go zones include Main Street, 100 to 300 block of Martin, anywhere near schools

A controlled burn got underway at Crater Mountain on Sunday, with smoke seen in Keremeos and Hedley. (Submitted)
A controlled burn got underway at Crater Mountain on Sunday, with smoke seen in Keremeos and Hedley. (Submitted)
Smoke and fire visible from Highway 3 is a prescribed burn

The controlled burn on Crater Mountain is to help bighorn sheep habitat

Windsurfers enjoying a windstorm on Skaha Lake in Penticton on March 28, 2021. (Sandy Steck Photography)
Wind warning issued for Okanagan Valley

Boaters are being warned of gusts up to 70 km/h by late afternoon on Sunday

This is what’s left of a truck that caught fire at Pyramid provincial park off Highway 97 Saturday night. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
PHOTOS: Truck gutted by fire at Pyramid Provincial Park, trees saved

Just a metal shell of what once was a pick up truck is left at the scene

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

A North Okanagan man in his late 20s was flown to hospital by air ambulance Saturday, April 17, shortly after 6:30 p.m. after allegedly crashing on his longboard on a Spallumcheen roadway. (File photo)
Suspected longboard crash in Okanagan sends individual to hospital via air ambulance

Accident involved a North Okanagan man in his late 20s on Otter Lake Road in Spallumcheen

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A Kelowna Pride Festival 2019 participant holds up a flag. (Kelowna Pride Society)
Kelowna Pride, RCMP continue to work on ‘Safe Place Program’

A new committee has been formed to refine the ‘Safe Place Program’ created by the Kelowna RCMP

Coldstream Fire Department crews stationed at Kal Lake Provincial Park parking lot on Cosens Bay Road on Sunday, April 18, after a car went over a cliff in the area. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
Driver escapes after car goes over North Okanagan cliff

The driver has been transported to hospital with unspecified injuries

A strange odour at a West Kelowna apartment building prompted the evacuation of 150 residents on Sunday morning, April 18. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
Strange smell at West Kelowna apartment prompts evacuation of 150 residents, pets

150 residents ordered evacuated from a West Kelowna apartment building early Sunday morning

Vernon Vipers goalie Roan Clarke celebrates his team’s 3-2 B.C. Hockey League pod play shootout win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks Saturday, April 17, at Kal Tire Place. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography)
Vernon Vipers use shootout to subdue Salmon Arm

Snakes score 3-2 B.C. Hockey League pod play win at Kal Tire Place

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Most Read