From their humble beginnings in 1991, the Vernon Vipers have become one of the most renowned and successful teams in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). With six league championships under their belt, the Vipers have proven themselves to be a force to be reckoned with on the ice. But what truly sets them apart is their longstanding rivalries with other teams in the league.
Where teams and players are constantly changing, it is rare to see such longstanding rivalries. However, the rivalries of the Vernon Vipers have stood the test of time, and continue to captivate fans and players alike. In this article, we will take a look back at some of the most important matchups in the history of the Vernon Vipers, and explore the factors that have made these rivalries so significant.
Vernon Vipers vs. Penticton Vees
Perhaps the most iconic and well-known rivalry in the BCHL is between the Vernon Vipers and the Penticton Vees. Both teams are located in the Okanagan region of British Columbia, and their rivalry dates back to the early 1990s when the Vees were known as the Penticton Panthers.
For more than two decades, the Vipers and the Vees have faced each other in intense and hard-fought battles on the ice. Both teams have a history of success and have produced many talented players who have gone on to play at higher levels of hockey. This has only added to the intensity of their rivalry, as each team strives to prove themselves as the dominant force in the BCHL.
Over the years, the Vipers and Vees have met in numerous playoff series, with each team taking turns knocking the other out of the playoffs. In fact, the rivalry is so strong that even the fans get involved, with games often selling out and the atmosphere in the arena reaching a fever pitch.
Vernon Vipers vs. Kelowna Rockets
Another long-standing rivalry for the Vernon Vipers is with the Kelowna Rockets, a team that plays in the Western Hockey League (WHL), a higher level of junior hockey. The Rockets are located just a short 45-minute drive from Vernon, making this matchup a highly anticipated and hotly contested one.
The rivalry between the Vipers and Rockets dates back to 1999 when the Vipers defeated the Rockets in the final of the BC Cup, a tournament held between the top junior teams in the province. This victory marked the beginning of a fierce rivalry between the two teams. Since then, the Vipers and Rockets have met in several exhibition games, with each team determined to come out on top.
In addition to the geographical proximity of the two teams, there is also a strong familial connection between the Vipers and Rockets. Many players have played for both teams at different points in their hockey careers, adding a layer of complexity to their already intense rivalry.
Vernon Vipers vs. Victoria Grizzlies
A lesser-known but equally important rivalry for the Vipers is with the Victoria Grizzlies. The two teams have faced off against each other in the playoffs on multiple occasions, with each series being hard-fought and intense.
Both the Vipers and Grizzlies have a history of producing top-level players, with several players from each team going on to play in the National Hockey League (NHL). This has only added to the competitiveness of their matchup, as both teams strive to prove themselves as the best in the league.
In 2019, the Vipers and Grizzlies met in the first round of the playoffs, with the Vipers ultimately coming out on top and advancing to the second round. This series not only showcased the skills and determination of both teams but also reignited their longstanding rivalry.
Vernon Vipers vs. Chilliwack Chiefs
While their rivalry with the Chilliwack Chiefs may not be as high-profile as their other matchups, the Vernon Vipers have a significant rivalry with this team. Located in the Fraser Valley region of British Columbia, the Chilliwack Chiefs are a formidable opponent for the Vipers.
In the early 2000s, the Chiefs were known as the Chilliwack Bruins and were a part of the WHL. The Vipers and Bruins met in the final of the BC Cup in 2000, with the Vipers coming out on top and kicking off their rivalry with the Bruins.
Over the years, the Vipers and Chiefs have met in the playoffs multiple times, with the Vipers often coming out on top. However, this has not lessened the intensity of their rivalry, as both teams continue to push each other to be the best.
As we have seen, the Vernon Vipers have several longstanding rivalries that have spanned over two decades. These matchups have not only produced some of the most intense and exciting games in the BCHL but have also played a significant role in shaping the Vipers into the successful and celebrated team they are today.
From their intense showdowns with the Penticton Vees to their familial connection with the Kelowna Rockets, these rivalries have stood the test of time and continue to captivate fans and players alike. As the Vipers continue to make a name for themselves, we can only imagine what other rivalries may unfold in the future.