Vernon Viper defenceman Luke Shiplo has verbally committed to play for the Quinnipiac University Bobcats beginning next NCAA hockey season.
“I flew down Sunday night and got a tour of the school Monday and it’s incredible,” said Shiplo, who de-committed from the Western Michigan Broncos last week. “The campus is beautiful with lots of green space and the school and facilities are high-tech. The rink reminds me of Vernon’s so it had a nice feel to it.”
Head coach Rand Pecknold picked Shiplo up at the airport and defensive coach Reid Cashman showed the Viper around the campus.
“I had meals with the players and got to meet them all,” said Shiplo, 19. “It was an awesome experience. It’s real exciting. I have to stay focused on the playoffs, but this is a real boost for my confidence.”
Shiplo leads all Viper blueliners in points with 44, including five goals. The Oakville, Ont. product was named Viper Defenceman of the Year at the awards night Friday at Kal Tire Place. He will sign a letter of intent with the Bobcats in April.
“Coming to Vernon was the best decision I ever made, for sure,” he said. “I’m having a great year so far and the team’s doing well so I couldn’t ask for anything more. You need to be given opportunties to gain confidence and that’s what the coaches have done with me. They strive for excellence every night; they’re an excellent coaching staff.”
Shiplo had one goal and eight points with the USHL Lincoln Stars last year and was recruited by former Viper head coach/GM Jason Williamson.
Meanwhile, Viper forward Liam Finlay is a finalist for Top Rookie in the BCHL, He, Brett Supinski of the Coquitlam Express and Brett Gruber of the Victoria Grizzlies are up for the Bruce Allison Memorial Trophy.
Finlay, who leads Vernon with 23 goals and 63 points, was named Viper Rookie of the Year last Friday.
“It could have gone to a few other guys, but it’s an honour,” said the Kelowna phenom. “There are a lot of great guys on this team and without them, I’d be nothing. The vets welcomed me here and the trade (from Penticton Vees) worked out great.”