Kelowna product and first-round bantam pick Jonathan Smart will be among the 100 players taking part this weekend in the Kelowna Rockets' rookie camp at Prospera Place.

Numbers down, quality steady at rookie camp

Kelowna Rockets will have a look at about 100 rookie prospects this weekend at Prospera Place

There won’t be nearly the quantity, but Lorne Frey still expects ample quality at this year’s version of Kelowna Rockets’ rookie camp.

With around 100 players set to take to the ice Thursday at Prospera Place—down from more than 150 last year—it will be one of the smallest rookie crops ever for the Western Hockey League club.

The Rockets’ director of player personnel said several factors have contributed to lower numbers, including cost and other teams being more proactive.

“It’s not cheap to travel and I think a lot of people think twice about that and want to stay closer to home than they have in the past,” said Frey. “What you’re seeing is a lot more players going to camps that are close to where they live.

“A lot of other teams are making more calls now, getting kids to their camps so that could be another reason.”

Still, Frey is encouraged by this year’s crop of mostly 1999-born players, led by first-round bantam draft pick Jonathan Smart. The first Kelowna product ever chosen by the Rockets in the opening round, Smart played defence last season in Penticton for Okanagan Hockey Academy.

The son of former WHL player Jason Smart, Jonathan took a bit of a growth spurt over the last few months and has Frey looking forward to his next few seasons in Rocket colours.

“He’s smart, he’s skilled and if he keeps growing, he’s going to be a big, powerful defenseman,” said Frey. “We’re looking forward to seeing him develop.”

The Rockets didn’t have a second or third round pick in the 2014 bantam draft, but had two picks in the fourth round and 11 choices in total.

And along with a few players who have been listed since the draft, Frey likes the overall quality of the rookie camp roster.

“We’re looking for some surprises, we think we might have some players who were drafted in the later rounds that have the potential to be very good,” he said. “The quality, we think, will be fine.”

With Frey and about 10 other of the team’s scouts watching from on high, Rockets’ rookie camp will run from Thursday through Sunday at Prospera Place.

The club’s main training camp, under the direction of new head coach Dan Lambert, will begin Tuesday morning.

 

Just Posted

New multi-million baggage system up and running at YLW

Kelowna Airport’s $39 million outbound baggage system can handle 900 bags an hour

New safety doors aim to protect transit drivers

These new full-length doors will be tested in Victoria, Kelowna and Abbotsford

Death and fire not treated as suspicious

RCMP has turned the invesigation of Monday’s fire on Gaggin Road over to the BC Coroners Service

Reworked plan for Kelowna’s Green Square development approved

After rejecting first version of residential development expansion, council says yes to new plan

Police searching for GoPro owner

Police are looking for the owner of a GoPro seized by police in Kelowna

One person sent to hospital after fire near Keremeos

Fire ripped through a shed and Winnebego at Sunkatchers RV Park Co-operative

Penticton Indian Band selects five new councillors

PIB aiming for internal reconciliation after by-election

Chiefs ground Rockets in Spokane

Former Rockets’ head coach Dan Lambert leads his Chiefs past Kelowna Wednesday in WHL action

Education minister blasts Chilliwack school trustee on gender issues

Fleming calls Neufeld’s behaviour ‘shameful’ and ‘unacceptable’

Two types of civic engagement in PIB

Some voted in the byelection, others protested the polls, as Penticton Indian Band fissures continue

‘Fresh eyes’ looking into three missing Cowichan Tribes men

First Nations want answers to their disappearances

Pedestrian hit moments after receiving safety reflector from police

The Vancouver Island man was treated for minor injuries by police at the scene

FortisBC LNG site exports first shipment of gas to China

The shipment is part of a pilot project that could see more exports in the future.

BC RCMP hunt for white SUV that rammed cruiser

Kamloops RCMP are looking for a white SUV headed north on the Yellowhead Highway

Most Read