Cade McNelly has been signed by the Vancouver Giants, the Langley-based team announced. (Giants)

Vernon Vipers add duo with WHL experience

Snakes pick up two players on BCHL trade deadline day, and add third new face prior to deadline

The Vernon Vipers added two players with Western Hockey League experience on B.C. Hockey League trade deadline day Monday, Jan. 10.

The Snakes acquired 20-year-old veteran defenceman Cade McNelly from the Vancouver Giants and 18-year-old forward Copeland Fricker from the Spokane Chiefs.

Prior to Monday, Vernon picked up defenceman Anthony Cliche, 18, from the United States Hockey League’s Muskegon Lumberjacks.

“We had lots of conversations after the Christmas break,” said Vernon head coach and general manager Jason McKee following Monday’s deadline. “We wanted to get better for now and for the future. We picked up some younger players earlier in the year and we were able to get a couple of 18-year-olds and a 20-year-old Monday.”

To make room for the new players, the Vipers released defenceman Adam Bourgeois and forward Kjell Kjemhus.

McNelly brings an element of toughness and physicality to the Vipers’ blueline. The Westlock, Alta. player has 111 games of Major Junior experience.

He had two goals and three assists in 20 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds in their shortened pod season. McNelly played three full seasons with the T-Birds. He also attended the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings’ training camp in September 2021 as a free-agent invitee.

“We expect Cade to come in and contribute to those areas right away while providing leadership to our group with his experience at the junior level,” said McKee.

McNelly is 6-foot-3, 210 pounds and a left-handed shot.

“I’m looking forward to getting started here in Vernon and doing everything I can do to be a good teammate and help the team be successful every night,” said McNelly.

In Fricker, the Vipers pick up a 5-foot-9, 162-pound, right-handed shooting forward with offensive flare.

From Midland, Texas, Fricker had seven points in 25 games with the Chiefs this season, and pocketed five points in the 20-game pod schedule. As a member of the Selects Academy 16U Team, where he was the captain, Fricker had 70 points in 54 games.

“Copeland is a well-rounded player and has shown a lot of offence before his junior career started,” said McKee. “We are hoping to see some of those scoring attributes here in Vernon.”

Cliche, from Vallee-Jonction, QC, is 6-foot-4, 215 pounds and a right-handed shot.

“Anthony is a big spatial defenceman that will bring depth to our group on the backend,” said McKee. “We look forward to what he will be able to provide our team in regards to experience, size and consistency.”

Cliche had 30 points with Mount St. Charles Academy 16U AAA. This season he suited up for 19 games with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL.

“I’m very excited to get things started and I’m grateful to get this opportunity,” said Cliche. “I’m looking forward to get to know my new teammates and the city of Vernon.”

Former Viper Nick Remissong will be joining his third team of 2021-22 after the Merritt Centennials traded him to the Trail Smoke Eaters for forward Jackson Krill and future considerations Monday.

Remissong was sent to Merritt earlier this season in the deal that brought defenceman Talon Zakall to the Vipers.

Vernon returns to action Friday, Jan. 14, kicking off a three-game homestand against Merritt. Game time is 7 p.m. at Kal Tire Place.

The Vipers (7-14-3-3) currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Interior Conference with a 15-point bulge on the Centennials. Vernon trails seventh-place Wenatchee (9-11-4-1) by two points though the Wild have two games in hand.

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Vernon Vipers head coach and general manager Jason McKee brought in three players, including two with Western Hockey League experience, on Monday’s BCHL Trade Deadline Day. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography)

Vernon Vipers head coach and general manager Jason McKee brought in three players, including two with Western Hockey League experience, on Monday’s BCHL Trade Deadline Day. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography)