By Rob Benneian
(LaSALLE, ON) – The LaSalle Vipers have welcomed back a big piece of their 2013-14 offensive attack, as general manager Bill Bowler announced forward Mark Manchurek re-joins the team.
Manchurek, 18, played in all situations for the Vipers as a Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League rookie a year ago, including on the top line with captain Dylan Denomme and centre Aaron Luchuk.
The Tecumseh native, passed over twice in the Ontario Hockey League draft, was added to the Windsor Spitfires protected list in November 2013 and was signed to a contract prior to the start of this season after turning in an impressive showing in the Spits training camp, including posting the best results in the team’s fitness testing.
“Mark is going to come down and hopefully help us win some games,” Bowler said. “We’re going to do our best to get him back to the OHL level,” and adding, “(Mark’s) a real consistent player, he can play any type of game and that’s a real benefit for a coach.”
The GOJHL Western Conference 2013-14 Top Rookie Scorer posted 31 goals and 65 points a year after being named the Belle River Canadiens Rookie of the Year. Manchurek played 26 games for the Spitfires this year, notching three goals and three assists, including scoring the first goal of the Spitfires season in their home opener Sept. 26.
“I’m excited to come back to the Vipers,” Manchurek said. “The team has been doing well since the break and last year was a lot of fun with a great group of guys.”
Though his goal is to eventually get back to the OHL, Manchurek hopes his experience at the next level will help the Vipers in their drive towards the playoffs this season.
“Hopefully I can take what I learned played for the Spits and use it playing again for the Vipers to help contribute,” he said.
The Vipers, who have been red hot since before Christmas, winning eight of their last nine, may not be done adding players, Bowler has indicated.
They currently have 22 players signed, with room to add one more after the addition of Manchurek. Forward Kyler Carter, who has been on Prince Edward Island on a try out with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Charlottetown Islanders, has been released. And defenseman Matthew Trudel, who signed with the Vipers in November, was traded to the St Marys Lincolns Saturday.