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Sunday, September 25, 2011 - The Morning Star A21


Gagnon feels the love in Winnipeg

Continued from A20 Vernon had to weather a stint of shorthanded play early in the third period on a pair of borderline minors called by referee Nick Swaine. He drew the ire of an estimated 1,700 fans when he assessed Knisley a tripping penalty for what looked like a solid hipcheck. Swaine then sent Ryan Renz off on a kneeing infraction after the strapping defender leveled a Salmon Arm attacker at his blueline. The Salmon Arm powerplay went 0-for-5, which is something head coach Colin O’Hara wants to see improve. “Our special teams have to get better. We gave up two powerplay goals and didn’t score on any of our opportunities. Those guys that are privileged to play those minutes have to get better for sure,” said O’Hara, a former assistant coach with Vernon. “We made the game hard on ourselves and on our d-men by giving up so many odd-man rushes. We’ve got a long way to go if we want to compete with these top teams.” Vernon went up 4-1 when Colton Sparrow corralled a centring pass from Barasa before ripping a shot post-and-in on a rush at 6:34. Knisley nearly got burned as he coughed up the puck right in front of Halcrow, who bailed him out with a pair of reflex saves. The speedy forward got the puck back and wheeled up ice, redeeming him-

self with a gorgeous top-shelf snipe over Williams’ blocker to complete the scoring at 18:24. The Vipers visited the SilverBacks Saturday night at Sunwave Centre. They travel to West Kelowna to take on the Westside Warriors Friday night at Royal LePage Place. In other Interior Conference action Friday night, the Penticton Vees got a goal and two helpers from Mike Moran in a 5-2 win over the host Coquitlam Express. After trading two goals apiece in the first period, the Vees buried three unanswered goals to put the game away. Troy Stecher recorded the winner at 6:01 of the second period. Rylan Ferster’s Westside Warriors scored five times in the second frame on the way to a 7-3 win over the host Trail Smoke Eaters Friday night at Cominco Arena. Tyler Krause led the Warrior attack with a hat trick. Seb Lloyd added a goal and two assists. Former SilverBack Paul De Jersey collected 2+1 to lead the host Prince George Spruce Kings to a 6-3 win over the Merritt Centennials at the Coliseum. Spruce King triplets Gerry (2G), Leo (1+1) and Myles Fitzgerald (1A) combined for five points. SNAKE BITES: The Vipers named Zalewski, Hadley and Corkey as their assistant captains for the coming season.

Tiremen take down Kelowna Morning Star Staff

Vernon Kal Tire brushed back Kelowna 2-1 in Okanagan Oldtimers 50+ Soccer League play Thursday night at Mission 71 Sports Field. Striker Joe Jamison chipped a high shot over Kal Tire keeper Dave Hampton to give Kelowna the lead in the 17th minute. The Tiremen equalized in the 28th minute when midfielder Jenne Hubert tried to split two defenders at the top of the 18-yard line. The ball squirted loose and striker Kevin Mitchell buried a corker top shelf from 22 yards out. The 9-10-4 Kal Tire, who had just 10 players, went in front in the 35th minute when Mitchell fed Jim Sparrow near midfield. Sparrow sent Dave

Dawson in with a fabulous long pass and the speedy Dawson went high for the winner. Mitchell switched spots with Hampton in the second half and guessed right to stop Jamison on a penalty kick in the 55th minute. Mitchell was named Chasers Bottle Depot Man of the Match, with Sparrow and defenders Rob Parkin, Grant Badgero and Rich Zecchel also sparkling. Vernon Silver Stars toppled shorthanded Lake Country 5-2 at Marshall Field #2. The Stars (15-5-3) lent Lake Country keeper Dave Gould, Mike Siemens and Alistair Duncan. Jeff Curtis (2), Rob Ross, Geoff Bradbury and Colin Grevling scored for the Stars, while Duncan notched both Lake Country goals.


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SilverBack special teams suffer

for the NHL,” said Holland. “The game of hockey is all about winning short races and he has the sense and quickness to compete.” Holland figures injuries have hurt Gagnon’s chances of promotion and said the Stars valued him highly. “He’s very smart defensively, he’s good at faceoffs and his attention to detail is excellent. I think he could play bottom-six for a team in the NHL.” Gagnon amassed 244 points in five years with Seattle, getting chosen by the Phoenix Coyotes in the 2004 Entry Draft. He made his NHL debut in the 2009-10 season when he played two games for Dallas, who signed him as a free agent after a strong camp in ‘06. He racked up 58 points in the AHL that season. Well known for his determination, Gagnon spent the summer working out with NHLers Shea Weber, Josh Gorges and Blake Comeau at Pinnacle Fitness in the Kelowna Capital News Centre, getting daily physio. On former Kelowna Rocket Jamie Benn, who is a rising star in Dallas, Gagnon said: “He came down for our playoff run two years ago and he’s an amazing player.” The amiable and down-to-earth Gagnon, who loved volunteering with the Ronald McDonald House during his time in Seattle, says the Jets have a great training staff and he’s feeling good about his rehab. His older brother Bryn, a former Salmon Arm SilverBack and SAIT Trojans forward, is working in the financial industry in Calgary.



Gagnon, a 5-foot-10, 190-pound centre, won’t be cleared to play until late October. He is slowly working on crossovers and pivoting in his rehab. His hotel roomie is Quesnel product Brett Festerling, a former Anaheim Duck. Gagnon expects to start the season with the Jets’ AHL affiliate, St. John’s IceCaps. For now, he’s lapping up the adrenaline rush surrounding the NHL’s return to Winnipeg after a 15-year absence. Management is in the process of building two teams in 106 days. “Everywhere you walk down the street, you see a Jets’ hat or a jersey. It’s pretty crazy and exciting.” With four full years of minor pro miles on his resume, Gagnon is prime for regular duty in the show. He racked Aaron Gagnon up 37 points in 58 AHL games last season, while playing 19 tilts in Dallas. “At every level I’ve played, I started as a defensive checking guy so I have a carved a niche as a penalty killer and third- or fourth-line energy guy. I’m pretty comfortable now after two years of (NHL) camps. You kind of get comfortable in the exhibitions. I think I can play in the NHL. Skating has a never been a problem.” Dallas full-time scout Dennis Holland, based in Vernon, has witnessed Gagnon’s act in two training camps, and liked what he saw. “He has improved every year and he’s quick enough



aron Gagnon is getting rock-star treatment as a member of the Winnipeg Jets. There he was, wearing a No. 42 practice jersey and joining two teammates on the ice last Friday at the MTS Centre. The jammed-packed place went bonkers as the Jets’ camp opened. “The three of us injured guys (veteran Eric Fehr has a bad shoulder) skated out and they gave us a huge ovation,” said Gagnon, from his hotel room in the Peg. “I’ve never been that nervous for a bag skate in my life.” Gagnon, a 25-year-old born in Quesnel and raised in Armstrong, tore an ACL in the first period of his last playoff game with the American League Texas Stars last Kevin Mitchell season. The former heart and soul of the Seattle Thunderbirds, who has played 21 NHL games with two assists, probably could have re-signed with Dallas Stars, where his AHL coach, Glen Gulutzan, was promoted to head coach. Gagnon is represented by Ross Gurney of Vancouver. “I was an unrestricted free agent which gave me the opportunity to look around and Winnipeg seemed like the best fit. They’re young and they have some room in the bottom of their lineup. I got a two-way this year and a one-way next year so that was a nice feeling.”


Vernon Morning Star Sept 25, 2011


Vernon Morning Star Sept 25, 2011