Right from their first meeting in 2001, the Vernon Vipers and Salmon Arm Silverbacks have had a colourful history in the B.C. Hockey League.
On that October night 20 years ago, the Silverbacks were the guests for the first game in Vernon’s new arena, Kal Tire Place, and Salmon Arm captain Joey D’Amico decided to ‘win’ the ceremonial faceoff.
And thus, a rivalry was born.
From firecrackers in the stands to a streaker from Salmon Arm running across the ice in Vernon (though not the Full Monty as the man was wearing a Salmon Arm jersey), there haven’t been a lot of dull moments between the two rivals separated by a mere 45-minute drive.
Who knows what fun will be had in Salmon Arm at the Shaw Centre on Jan. 2, 2022 as the Silverbacks entertain Vernon in their Retro Theme Night game.
The BC Hockey League has announced its schedule for the league’s retro theme nights initiative for the 60th Anniversary season.
“BCHL teams will host a retro night in their arena where they will wear their brand-new retro jerseys and take their fans for a walk down memory lane by honouring the history of their franchise, the league and hockey in their region,” said BCHL communications manager Jesse Adamson.
Prior to 2001, Salmon Arm had a brief history in the league, spending four years in the early 1980s playing as the Shuswap Totems, and finishing the decade for two years as the Salmon Arm Tigers. Junior A hockey left the Shuswap until Garry Davidson and Andy Murray brought in the Silverbacks franchise, which has been going steady for 20 years.
Vernon, of course, has a longer history than the Shuswap. The city was one of the founding franchises of the BC Junior Hockey League, known then as the Vernon Blades. They have also been called the Essos, Vikings, Canadians, Lakers and, now, Vipers. The franchise has won a league-high 12 championships (tied with Penticton) and six national Junior A titles.
Salmon Arm has reached one league championship, 2003-04, the same year they finished first in the Interior Division for the only time.
Retro nights will take place throughout the year, starting with an Oct. 16 date in Cowichan Valley and finishing Jan. 22 in Coquitlam.
The Vipers will host Penticton in its retro game on Nov. 27, and will reciprocate as visitors for Penticton’s back-in-time night on Dec. 17.
Penticton and the Trail Smoke Eaters will each participate in four retro night games.
“Each team’s retro night will be unique and will act as an opportunity to share memories and traditions with their fans, while also showcasing today’s talent in the league,” said Adamson.
The retro jerseys for each team will be unveiled in the coming weeks.
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