Yale Academy centre Ethan Bowen was the Kelowna Rockets first choice in Thursday’s WHL bantam draft. -Image credit: stinkylockers.com

Rockets build on stable of centres in bantam draft

Kelowna’s first three choices Thursday are centres, including first pick Ethan Bowen

With their number not coming up until late in the second round of the WHL bantam draft, the Kelowna Rockets werent’t certain Ethan Bowen would still be aavailable.

So when the Rockets landed the Yale Academy centre with the 39th selection overall Thursday in Calgary, there was some cause for celebration.

“We’re thrilled that we got to draft this player,” said Rockets’ president and GM Bruce Hamilton. “We had him ranked much higher than where we picked him.

“We’re excited to introduce him to our coaching staff and to our players. He could be a strong player for our organization for years to come.”

Still, the Rockets could end in a recruiting battle for Bowen who is said to be a candidate to go the NCAA route and possibly play in the BCHL.

As far as being chosen by the Rockets, Bowen, a native of Chilliwack is excited to become a member of one of the WHL’s most successful franchises.

“Kelowna is a great organization and I’m very happy to have a great WHL option,” said the 5-foot-11 1/2 Bowen, who scored 33 goals and added 29 assists last season for Yale’s bantam prep team. “I really appreciate the opportunity to be associated with the Rockets. It’s a great organization with a great history of success.”

The Rockets were without a first-round pick this year after dealing the selection to the Prince Albert Raiders in the trade for forward Reid Gardiner.

Kelowna added to its stable of future centres with their next two choices. In the third round, 61st overall, the Rockets took Ethan Ernst from Yorkton, Sask., a forward with Saskatchewan’s Notre Dame Hounds. In round four, Kelowna went with Cole Carrier, a centre from Sherwood Park, via Strathcona, Alta.

The Rockets landed their first defenceman of the draft in the fourth round, choosing Rylan Donald 83rd overall.

Donald, from Star City, Sask., played this past season with the North East Wolfpack bantam AA team.

Later in the fifth, 106th overall, Kelowna took 6-foot-5 defenceman Kaeden Watkins from Saskatoon.

The Rockets remaining picks were: Jake Poole, RW, McAauley, Man.; James Bohn, D, POE; Cole Tisdale, G, Lethbridge; Stephen Kesslering, RW, Yorkton, Sask; Robert Kincaid, D, Kincaid, Alta; and Brody Wilson, C, Birtle, Man.

For the WHL draft tracker, click HERE.

Kelowna products drafted…

Kelowna’s Jack Finley was selected sixth overall by the Spokane Chiefs. The son of former Rockets’ assistant coach and NHL defenceman Jeff Finley, the younger Finley scored 23 goals and 48 points last season with the Pursuit of Excellence Bantam Prep team. Finley, a forward, stands in at 6-foot-3, 184 pounds…Kelowna’s Tanner Brown, D, was taken in the second round, 24th overall, by the Vancouver Giants. Brown played with the POE Bantam Prep team…Jaylen Luypen, LW, from Okanagan Hockey Academy was chosen in the ninth round by the Edmonton Oil Kings.