Mark Ferner (left) has been replaced as Vernon Vipers head coach and general manager, though the club has extended an invitation for him to remain with the organization in an alternate role. (Morning Star - file photo)

Vernon Vipers announce new head coach

Jason McKee has been announced as the head coach and general manager for the 2019-2020 BCHL season.

The Vernon Vipers have made a change behind the bench for the 2019-2020 BCHL season.

The club announced Jason McKee as the head coach and general manager.

“We are excited to welcome Jason, along with his wife Carey-Ann and daughters Brianna and Brynn to the Vipers,” said executive vice president Todd Miller. “It is an exciting time for the Vipers organization and the addition of Jason McKee’s passion, leadership skills and winning tradition completely align with our vision for the future.”

McKee takes over from Mark Ferner, whose contract that expired at the end of April was not renewed.

Ferner spent two different stints with the Vipers, guiding them to three straight B.C. Hockey league titles and three consecutive Royal Bank Cup appearances from 2009 to 2011. Under Ferner, the Vipers won two RBC Cups and lost the final in ‘11.

He left to join the Western Hockey League’s Everett Silvertips and Kamloops Blazers before returning to Vernon in 2014. Ferner led the Vipers to this year’s Fred Page Cup final, where they were swept by the Prince George Spruce Kings.

“The Vipers would like to thank Mark Ferner for his leadership and dedication and have extended an offer for Mark to remain with the organization in an alternate role,” said Miller.

McKee brings a wealth of coaching experience to the B.C. Hockey League.

He served as an assistant with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Spruce Grove Saints for a couple of seasons before being named the Saints’ head coach and general manager in 2010. He led the Saints to the AJHL final in 2011, 2013 and 2014, winning the league in ‘11 and ‘14. His Saints would lose the B.C.-Alberta Doyle Cup Pacific Region final in seven games to Ferner and the Vipers in 2011.

McKee was named Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Coach of the Year in 2013-14.

He jumped to the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants in 2016, spending two seasons with the Giants before being relieved of his duties in June 2018. McKee compiled a 56-73-9-6 record with Vancouver.

Spring camp starts for the Vipers this weekend and the organization is finalizing hockey schools and fall camps and will extend communication when the dates are finalized.

The Vernon Vipers organization also wanted to express their appreciation for the fan support from the community of Vernon and surrounding areas.

For more information please call the Viper office at 250-542-6022.

* Vipers defenceman Landon Fuller is chasing a WHL championship with the Giants. Vancouver called up the towering Williams Lake native for the league championship series against the Prince Albert Raiders. The best-of-seven is tied 1-1 with Game 3 Tuesday night at the Langley Events Centre.

Related: Vernon Vipers surprised with welcome home

Related: Vernon Vipers use overtime to defeat Wenatchee

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Former Spruce Grove Saints and Vancouver Giants bench boss Jason McKee is the new head coach of the Vernon Vipers. (vancouvergiants.com photo)

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