Students at Okanagan Landing Elementary got to play floorball with the Vernon Vipers and check out the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship trophy Monday morning.
It was all part of the BC Hockey Road to World Junior Championship travelling show, in its third week, trying to generate excitement for the 2019 world tournament in Vancouver and Victoria.
George Cochrane of BC Hockey, wearing former Team Canada star Matt Barzal’s No. 8 jersey, welcomed students and staff to the gymnasium, asking them a few questions and introducing tournament mascot Celly, who pulled off some wild dance moves and took a turn in net for the shootout which saw outgoing Mayor Akbal Mund go forehand-backhand for a snipe and Landing principal Jodi van der Meer stopped on a slapper.
“Who knows who was captain of Team Canada in 2015?” asked Cochrane.
“Jagger,” shouted one boy, referring to popular Viper captain Jagger Williamson.
“No, not yet,” laughed Cochrane.
Another boy yelled “Curtis Lazar.”
Said Cochrane: “There you go, a great Vernon product, Curtis Lazar.”
Lazar, a first-round draft pick of the Ottawa Senators, was given permission to leave the NHL team for the world tourney in Toronto and Montreal. The hustling centre scored some clutch goals in boosting Canada to the gold medal.
The 2019 championships are in Vancouver and Victoria.
BC Hockey, helped by the Vipers and players from minor hockey, brought out groups of students to deliver fun, educational presentations of basic hockey skills utilizing floorball equipment.
“It’s a lot of fun but my stick is too short,” said Grade 7 student Cole Gartner, who plays hockey for the Pee Wee Tier 3 Vipers. “It’s good to have the Vipers helping us.”
Sebastian Streu, Connor Marritt, Ben Helgeson and Brenden Jim joined Williamson from the Junior A Vipers, while Cam Moger, Ben Reinhardt and Porter Trevelyan of the Zone 2 Midget Tier 2 Kings and Shaelyn Cecchini and Jordyn Morris of female hockey assisted the Vipers in passing, stickhandling and shooting drills with students.
Stacey Couch of Hockey BC said they left behind 35 floor sticks and balls for the school. The road show stopped in Armstrong Monday afternoon and will visit Revelstoke, Salmon Arm, Kamloops and Merritt throughout the week.
“We want the kids to improve their hockey skills and remain active,” said Couch.
Sandy Moger, a former NHL forward and now Director of Hockey Operations for Vernon minor hockey, and Bill Greene of Falkland, president of BC Hockey Association, were in the house.