New head coach Brad Ralph and the Kelowna Rockets open the WHL regular season Friday at home to the Kamloops Blazers.

New Rockets coach embraces expectations

Brad Ralph looks to get Kelowna Rockets back to Memorial Cup in 2016

In five seasons as a head coach at the professional level, Brad Ralph never had a losing record.

Based on the major junior team he’s inheriting, there’s no reason to believe his streak of competence will end in 2015-16.

Still, Ralph knows it’s more than just winning records that have become the norm for the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets.

With three consecutive 50-win seasons, followed by a fifth trip to the Memorial Cup by the franchise last spring, expectations in Kelowna have never been higher.

“I’m getting a pretty good sense of the legacy that’s been established here,” said Ralph, who was hired in August after three seasons with Idaho of the East Coast Hockey League.

“I just know that my goal every year is to win every game wherever I coach, whether that’s realistic or not.

“There’s certainly an awareness of the expectations here,” added Ralph, “but I’ll put enough pressure on myself, I won’t need any reminders or motivation from anywhere else.”

In addition to learning about the organization largely from scratch, Ralph has had to adjust to coaching younger, less experienced players than at the pro level. However, thanks to the talent and quality of players he’s been handed, Ralph said the transition has been relatively smooth.

“There’s a little bit of a difference in terms of maturity where the players are at in terms of their preparation and focus,” he said. “It’s a little bit of a learning curve but for the most part, it’s been good. We have a great group of players to work with, so that helps a lot.”

And while Ralph hasn’t had much time to get up to speed on all aspects of his job, Rockets’ GM Bruce Hamilton is encouraged by the 34-year-old coach’s progress.

“He’s come a long way in a short period of time,” Hamilton said. “It’s not easy, a whole new team to deal with. He’s just learning about these guys but I think he’ll do just fine.”

With a group of skilled and experienced forwards returning, a young and mobile defensive corps, and solid veteran goaltending to fall back on, Ralph expects the Rockets to once again be a handful for opposing teams.

“We’ll play fast, we’ll play an up-tempo style, and be creative off the rush,” he said. “All that being said, we’re stressing that we’re not sacrificing defensive play, we’re still going to play a complete game in all zones.

“…and in goal, with (Whistle and Herringer) you can’t do much better than that.”

And as much as Ralph has learned about his team in a few short weeks, he said the most substantial learning will happen once the puck drops to open the regular season.

“I am excited to play games,” said Ralph. “I think it’s an easier way to get a feel for the players, to establish the style of game that we’re going to play and who fits in where. Everybody’s excited to get going.”







Just Posted

Pedestrian hit at ‘dangerous’ Kelowna cross walk

Emergency officials responded to a cross walk that neighbours say is unsafe Saturday evening

Permitted burns in Okanagan mountains

Kelowna Fire Department says please don’t call 911

Pets sit in Santa’s lap

Kelowna - The Okanagan Small Dog Rescue Society held a pet photo opt today

Your weekend highlights

Each week, the Capital News will highlight stories from the week

Comedian/magician visiting Lake Country

Wes Barker is performing at Creekside Theatre, Nov. 25

Drones used in search for clues about missing women

A volunteer search party was supported by professional drone operators

Start on time: Canucks looking to shake first-period struggles

Canucks centre Bo Horvat said the formula for getting a leg up is there for everyone to see

COMMUTER ALERT: Snowfall warnings in effect across B.C.

Travelling this weekend? Check the forecasts before hitting the road

Tips for keeping your personal data safe, from the experts

It’s important to keep your ‘online footprint’ safe

Lights to turn blue ahead of funeral for fallen Abbotsford police officer

Buildings across B.C. are going blue Saturday night in honour of Const. John Davidson

Ride-share pioneer drives up quietly to B.C. battleground

Lyft approaches B.C. without Uber bombast, eyes small towns

Massive monster truck tour held in Kelowna

Traxxas Monster Truck Tour will be here in January, 2018

Boomer radio expands

Kelowna resident Allen Holender continues to expand his network

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Most Read