When Comox Valley Vipers meet Powell River Kings this weekend, it will be a rematch of epic proportions, and area residents are invited to attend to view some highly skilled floor hockey players in action.
“We have played the Kings several times over the last few years, and our record is pretty good,” said Tarra Tipton, assistant coach for the Vipers and Powell River coach for Special Olympics floor hockey. “We won the first game, the Kings won the second, and the third ended in a tie, but after a shoot-out, the Vipers won that game as well. It’s definitely competitive, and we give the Kings a good challenge.”
The game takes place at 1 pm on Sunday, January 19, at Brooks Secondary School. Tipton said there will be lots of room in the bleachers for spectators.
“This is a great opportunity to support and meet local athletes, both from the Kings and from Special Olympics,” said Tipton. “Everyone is welcome, and we’re collecting donations for Special Olympics Powell River. Our local is volunteer-run and our athletes are supported by fundraising, donations and grants.”
The Vipers are preparing for Special Olympics Nationals, taking place in Thunder Bay, Ontario, from February 25 to 29.
“This is this team’s third winter nationals, which take place every four years,” said Tipton. “They placed second in 2016, and have been training hard ever since. The athletes have said several times, ‘It is our time for redemption.’ They are a determined group and are well on their way to being ready for the games.”
The exhibition game against the Kings is part of that training. “We use these games against the Kings to give our athletes an idea of what stamina level they will need to compete, which is good information for our new players,” said Tipton. “Most of the team has played together for about 15 years, but there does seem to be at least one new athlete joining us each year.”
Three of the Vipers live in Powell River and train with Tipton: Tanya Norman, Andrew Swindlehurst and Robert Lang. Tipton said they travel to Comox every second Sunday to practice with the whole team, which includes athletes from the Comox Valley, a goaltender from Nanaimo, and two athletes from Victoria specifically for nationals.
“We are fewer than 40 days away from nationals and representing British Columbia in floor hockey,” said Tipton, “but we’ll be ready.”