Vernon’s Colton Sparrow has signed a pro hockey contract with the ECHL Wichita Thunder. (University of Regina Photo)

Vernon’s Sparrow signs with Wichita

Vernon product headed to ECHL for pro hockey

Kansas or England? Vernon’s Colton Sparrow was brushing up on his geography and wondering about his hockey location for next season.

His Kelowna-based agent PJ (Pat) Sullivan and Vernon Vipers’ head coach Mark Ferner both made some calls and the skate-till-ya-drop forward is now the property of the ECHL Wichita Thunder.

Coached by Malcolm Cameron, a former bench boss of the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats, the Thunder are the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, AHL’s Bakersfield Condors and powered by Toyota.

“It all happened really fast,” said Sparrow, named Top Forward in the 2014 Royal Bank national Junior A hockey tournament in Vernon. “Ferner had some nice things to say about me and the Wichita guy knew my coach, Todd Johnson, in Regina (University Cougars). It’s nice to have references going to bat for you.”

A 24-year-old arts student, Sparrow spent four B.C. Hockey League with the Vipers, ringing up 32 goals and 166 points. Blessed with soft hands and great vision, the Vernon product boosted the Snakes to the RBC title in 2010 in Dauphin, Man. and a runner-up the following year in Camrose, Alta.

He earned a scholarship with the University of Alaska Nanooks, pocketing six goals and 15 points in two seasons before transferring to the University of Regina. He compiled 8-14-22 in two years in Regina. He joined his buddy, ex-Kootenay Ice forward Zach McPhee, with the Cougars.

RELATED: Yorkton knocks out Vernon 

Rookies in the ECHL earn US$400 a week with veterans collecting $455 a week. Teams normally run three forward lines and can play three games in a weekend.

“I’m going in with an open mind,” said Sparrow. “I’ve talked to guys who were on two-way NHL deals and guys like (buddy Basara) Marcus who was on an entry-level contract and had a rough experience because he got traded a lot. I’ve also talked to other guys who have done it. Some guys get to a spot they like and love the league. Ferner said, ‘Spares, you’ll be fine because you work so hard.’”

The Thunder, who had a handful of B.C. products on their roster a year ago, finished fourth in the Mountain Division last year with 34 wins. They play out of the 13,400-seat Intrust Bank Arena. Wichita is the largest city in Kansas with a population of 400,000.

Wichita earlier signed rookie d-man Justin Lemcke, who led the Hamilton Bulldogs to the Ontario League title an appearance in the Memorial Cup.

Sparrow, who was trying to land a spot in England, where he could secure his masters degree while playing, and Basara are spending the summer in Kelowna, parking cars at the Eldorado Hotel.

RELATED: Disease can’t bench Caleb


@VernonNews
sports@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Mounties identify woman found dead on Kelowna beach

“Our investigators do not believe criminality was involved.”

Pacific Poke bowl lovers can get a free taste at the restaurant’s ‘Grand Opening Event’

The restaurant will offer some of its specials Thursday evening at its Kelowna location

Youth Shelter Fundraiser encourages kids to play for a good cause

The fundraiser takes place April 27 at the EnergyPlex

Tribute to Kelowna’s Chinese Canadian pioneers planned

A tribute to Kelowna’s historic Chinese Canadian community got underway this weekend.

Update: RCMP confirm body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand ‘a roof too’

Wealthy people have donated millions to effort to rebuild cathedral after devastating fire

South Okanagan community bands together on social media after shootings

Many in Penticton have turned to social media to express their condolences

PHOTOS: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says ‘I do’ on Earth Day

May and John Kidder got married Monday morning in Victoria

Okanagan resort seeking connnection to rail trail

Predator Ridge Resort slated to present wish for trail from resort to ORT to Vernon council

South Okanagan society looking to bring new racing event to their park

The Desert Park Exhibition Society board is looking into hosting another major event

Okanagan power outage scuttles – but not ruins – city’s mission’s Easter meals

Vernon’s Upper Room Mission will serve Easter dinner a day later due to downtown power outage

Waterway Houseboats wins $2 million for damages caused in 2012 flood

Houseboat company wins lawsuit involving Province of British Columbia, District of Sicamous

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Netflix filming in North Okanagan

Multiple downtown locations and scenic areas to star in TV production

Most Read