Breckenridge Vipers poised to build off last season’s fan energy and excitement
Summit County offers many sports to watch throughout the winter. Whether that is attending a local ski and snowboard competition, watching a Summit High School winter sports team or cheering at a local Nordic ski race, Summit offers something for every sports lover.
Last year, one of the most popular events to attend in Summit County was a Breckenridge Vipers hockey game. During the 2021-22 hockey season, the Vipers welcomed fans back into Stephen C. West Ice Arena in Breckenridge for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.
This season, the team hopes to continue to build the fan experience while providing high quality semi-professional hockey to Summit locals and visitors alike.
The Breckenridge Vipers are Summit County’s only semiprofessional sports team and this season will play in the Black Diamond Hockey League.
In order to prepare for the quickly approaching season, the Vipers have conducted team tryouts and early season practices over the last few weeks.
“Tryouts went really well,” Founding Vipers athlete Rick Batenburg said. “We have a lot of returning players. We looked a lot snappier than we have in years past. The boys have been on the ice quite a bit over the summer, and you can tell. Everybody was looking pretty sharp.”
Batenburg is hoping that the influx of returning players will lend itself to chemistry and cohesiveness on the ice. Last season, the Breckenridge Vipers put on a show at every one of its home games throughout the duration of the season.
In true hockey town fashion, ski resort employees, families and children packed the ice arena in order to hopefully see the Vipers get another win.
“Last year was really a breakthrough year for us in terms of community support,” goaltender and general manager JR Engelbert said. “Everybody kind of finally got to experience and see what we have been hoping for — for the last handful of years.”
Engelbert said last season truly fueled the team and that the team is looking forward to getting back onto the ice in order to build upon and top the energy that was seen last season.
“The fan experience has always been the No. 1 priority for us,” Batenburg said, “making sure that the fan experience is top notch, scaling up in order to become even more of a professional organization.”
The Vipers will improve the fan experience this season by making adjustments to the ticketing and concessions stands. The hope is that the new adjustments will lend itself to a better experience when trying to file into the arena.
The Vipers are also introducing VIP tickets for the 2022-23 season, offering a new fan experience to die-hard fans.
In terms of games this season, the Breckenridge Vipers boast a 14-game home schedule, all of which will take place at Stephen C. West Ice Arena from December through March.
For Engelbert and Batenburg, the team could not be more excited for hosting its rivals — the Vail Yeti — on Friday, Dec. 16 for the Vipers’ home opener.
“We are going to play them three times at home and three times at Dobson this season,” Engelbert said. “It’s too good of a series, it’s too good of a game, it’s too good of a rivalry to limit it to just a couple games each year.”
Batenburg said that the team is also looking forward to playing some of the more developed hockey teams in the Black Diamond Hockey League.
“Jackson Hole, Sun Valley, Reno,” Batenburg said. “They have just as strong of a home fan base as we do. That is really the evolution of the league and the teams that are still here. The league is really starting to become a staple in these towns.”
The Breckneridge Vipers expect nothing less than a standing-room-only crowd for puck drop against the Vail Yeti on Friday, Dec. 16. Prior to taking the ice against Vail, the Vipers will open the season with a two-game slate on the road against the Reno Ice Raiders on Friday, Dec. 2, and Saturday, Dec. 3.
The Vipers home-opener game against Vail is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. To purchase tickets in advance, visit Linktr.ee/BreckVipers.
Dec. 16 vs. Vail Yeti, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 13 vs. Las Vegas Millionaires, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 14 vs. Las Vegas Millionaires, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 22 vs. New York Fire Department, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 27 vs. Vail Yeti, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 3 vs. Reno Ice Raiders, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 4 vs. Reno Ice Raiders, 7:30 p.m.
March 3 vs. Denver Leafs, 7:30 p.m.
March 4 vs. Denver Leafs, 7:30 p.m.
March 10 vs. Sun Valley Suns, 7:30 p.m.
March 11 vs. Sun Valley Suns, 7:30 p.m.
March 17 vs. McCall Mountaineers, 7:30 p.m.
March 18 vs. McCall Mountaineers, 7:30 p.m.
March 25 vs. Vail Yeti, 7:30 p.m.
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