Rockets deal Smart for veteran blueliner

Kelowna acquires James Hilsendager and 17-year-old forward Erik Gardiner from Regina Pats

  • Wed Nov 30th, 2016 7:00am
  • Sports

Jonathan Smart was a first-round bantam draft pick of the Rockets in 2014.

With Gordie Ballhorn sidelined until the New Year with an injury, the Kelowna Rockets needed a veteran defenseman to fill the void.

On Wednesday, the Rockets sent defenseman Jonathan Smart to the Regina Pats, for 19-year-old blueliner James Hilsendager and forward Erik Gardiner, 17.

Hilsendager is in his third full season with the Pats while Gardiner played two games this season with Regina before joining the Humboldt Broncos of the SJHL where he has 10 goals in 14 games as a rookie.

The trade comes after word the Rockets would be without veteran blueliner Ballhorn for six weeks with an (upper body/hand) injury.

“With the loss of Gordie, we felt we needed to get another older defenceman in here and Jonathan Smart was the player Regina wanted,” said Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton. “This brings us some depth on defense with a veteran player.

“With Erik, he has 10 goals in the SJHL as a 17-year-old and was caught in a numbers game in Regina. We look forward to him being a player for us in the future.”

Hilsendager has played in 135 career regular season WHL games as well as 18 more in the playoffs, including 12 last season when he was plus-four for Regina.

Gardiner scored 21 goals in 43 games last year in midget in Prince Albert before joining the Pats for the WHL playoffs.

Smart, 17, in his second season with the Rockets, played in 68 regular season games with the Rockets.