A significant portion of the Rockets’ offensive attack rejoined the team this week as Kelowna prepares for the 2015-16 WHL home opener this Friday night at Prospera Place.
Forwards Nick Merkley and Tyson Baillie have been returned to the Rockets from NHL training camps.
Merkley was at his first NHL training camp with Arizona after being a first round NHL draft pick of the Coyotes this summer. Baillie had been with Calgary on a tryout and earned an invite to Flames main camp before being returned.
Merkley, 18, led the Rockets with 90 points last season, including 70 assists. Baillie, 19, scored 37 goals and had 76 points.
The only Rockets players still at NHL camps and expected to return to Kelowna are Rourke Chartier, who is in San Jose, and Devante Stephens who is in Buffalo.
Madison Bowey (Washington), Josh Morrissey (Winnipeg) and Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton) are all expected to graduate to pro hockey.
Other players that attended NHL camps but have recently returned to Kelowna are Justin Kirkland (Nashville), Cole Linaker (Edmonton), Tomas Soustal (Calgary) and Jackson Whistle (Vancouver).
The Rockets completed a five game WHL exhibition schedule with a win over Vancouver on Saturday, going 3-2-0-0 in the preseason.
At its home opener on Friday, Kelowna will celebrate its 2014-15 season with a banner raising ceremony before the game, as the team will begin defense of its WHL and BC Division titles against Kamloops.
It’s the beginning of the Rockets 25th year in operation and the WHL’s 50th season.