The Vernon Vipers will be leaning on veteran presence for their last line of defence as the enter their B.C. Hockey League exhibition season with a pair of 20-year-old netminders.
Kelowna product Jarrod Schamerhorn bounced around five different teams and two different leagues the past five seasons. Now, after a breakthrough year with the Vipers, he has a place to call home.
“I love coming back here,” said Schamerhorn. “The fans, the coaches and everyone treated me like family last year. It’s like coming home again.”
Completing his most successful year in Junior, Schamerhorn went 24-12-1 with a .907 save percentage and 2.71 goals against average.
He has also played with the Nanaimo Clippers and Merritt Centennials of the BCHL and the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.
Schamerhorn didn’t just hang out at Gyro Beach checking out the scenery after nearly knocking off the Penticton Vees in Game 7 of the Interior Division Finals. He spent his summer in the lab, working on his game.
“I trained everyday with my trainer in Kelowna and worked a lot with my goalie coach in Penticton about playing bigger and using better angles,” said Schamerhorn. “I’m going to use my size a lot better this year.”
The other 20-year-old tendy is Alaskan product Andrew Shortridge, and he is enjoying the competition at camp so far.
“The compete level is pretty high here. Everyone wants to be in net and be the No. 1 guy,” said Shortridge. “But everyone is so nice here and they are great guys. It’s a friendly and extremely competitive camp; it’s great.”
Shortridge played for the Aberdeen Wings of South Dakota in the North American Hockey League. He went 15-15-1 with a .913 save percentage and a 2.57 goals against average.
“Competition is good in camp, lots of jobs are still available. Guys are going out and competing and that’s what we want to see,” said Vipers’ head coach/GM Mark Ferner. “Andrew is a good goalie and the other guy, (Joseph) McLeod is pretty good too.”
McLeod turns 18 in October and played with the Kelowna Pursuit of Excellence Prep program.
“Until the real bullets start to fly, it’s hard to evaluate anything we have seen so far in camp,” said Ferner, who is busy implementing habits and strategy during a week of practice. “Most teams might not think it’s smart keeping two 20-year-old goalies, but I’m looking at it as a luxury.”
The coaching staff will wait until the end of the weekend before trimming the roster any further.
The Vipers open their exhibition season with a home and home series with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. They travel to the Shaw Centre tonight (7 p.m.) and host the Silverbacks Saturday night (6 p.m.) at Kal Tire Place.
The Vipers regular season home opener goes Friday, Sept. 11 (7 p.m.) when they entertain the Trail Smoke Eaters at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon product Cole Woodlife scored once for Team White in a 7-6 loss to Team Blue in the Merritt Centennials’ intrasquad game Wednesday.
Woodliffe, 18, compiled 22 goals and 48 points with the KIJHL Summerland Steam last year, adding one goal in seven call-ups with the West Kelowna Warriors.
Vernon’s Brett Jewell is also in Merritt’s camp. The 18-year-old produced 18 goals and 30 points with the KIJHL Osoyoos Coyotes last season. He got in seven games with the Cents.
Both Woodliffe and Jewell are forwards.