Vipers hockey team adds former Winterhawk as coach

Former Winterhawk to share duties with Dickerman

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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The Fort Vancouver Vipers junior hockey team on Thursday announced that former Portland Winterhawk Jim Dobson has joined their coaching staff for the 2014-15 season.

A former head coach for the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League, Dobson played for the Winterhawks in the 1978-79 and 1979-80 seasons scoring 104 goals and adding 107 assists.

He played 12 games in the National Hockey League during a professional career impacted by injuries, and also played in the American Hockey League and the Central Hockey League.

“We all realized we needed to get a coach with credentials,” Vipers general manager Chuck Cheshire said.

Mike Dickerman and Dobson, known in Portland hockey circles as “The Dobber,” will share coaching duties. Dickerman was the head coach during the Vipers winless 2013-14 season, his first head coaching job.

“Two heads are better than one,” said Dickerman, who became friends with Dobson while playing in adult hockey leagues in the Portland area.

After retiring as a player, Dobson was hired as an assistant coach for the Thunderbirds, then promoted to head coach during the 1987-88 season. Barry Melrose, now the NHL analyst for ESPN, replaced Dobson the following season.

The Vipers have won two of 80 games over the last two seasons. The team’s roster has been the most inexperienced in the Northern Pacific Hockey League, a third-tier USA Hockey-sanctioned junior league for players ages 16-20. A developmental league for players hoping to move to college or higher levels of hockey, players in the NPHL pay a fee to play.

The Vipers will hold a tryout camp for players ages 16-20 on June 7-8 at Mountain View Ice Arena. Cost is $120 for the camp.

The Vipers are a not-for-profit organization operated by Cheshire along with president Danny Steinmueller and treasurer Janet Steinmueller. Cheshire said one of the team’s primary goals is to give players from the Vancouver-Portland area a chance to play junior hockey without leaving home.

“It’s about setting something up so kids in the community have a place to play,” Cheshire said.

League expands — The NPHL has added teams in Wenatchee and in Tacoma and will have eight teams for the 2014-15 season, which is scheduled to open Sept. 12.