One day, Dillon Dube and Kole Lind plan to play in the National Hockey League.
The Kelowna Rockets linemates each gave their respective teams a precursor of what’s to come at the Young Stars Classic over the weekend in Penticton.
Dube, 19, a second-round pick of the Calgary Flames in 2016, is attending his second NHL training camp.
On Monday, the Cochrane, AB native closed out the Penticton tourney with the Flames’ lone goal in a 4-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
“Just play my game and feel that I can fit in,” Dube said of his main objective at his second Young Stars Classic. “Obviously, it’s going to be different at main camp with all the pros there, they’ve been there for a long time and I just want to be able to be confident with them and show that I’m pushing for a spot in a couple of years.”
Lind, 18, a second round-draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks, made an auspicious debut at his first pro camp, registering two assists and adding an empty net goal in Friday’s 4-2 win over Winnipeg.
“It was a really cool time, had a lot of fun out here, to throw on a Canucks jersey for the first time was definitely special,” Lind said. “I think we would have liked to have had a couple more wins, but it was a great time all around.
“I felt good out there, I felt fresh for the new year, not as rusty as I usually do,” Lind added. “It helps to have a little better players out here that can make the game a lot easier for you for always being in the right spot…it felt good.”
With the departure of key veteran high-scoring forwards Nick Merkley, Calvin Thurkauf and Reid Gardiner from last year’s club, both Dube and Lind will be key to the Rockets’ success in 2017-18.
Rockets’ assistant coach Kris Mallette said the two second-round NHL picks will be front and centre for the WHL club this season.
“Dillon and Kole had prominent roles in our top six last year and we expect both to come back and show us an added level of play and lead by example,” said Mallette. “They’re not our only guys but are definitely in a group of players we’re going to lean on in all situations, kind of our go-to guys.
“Hopefully they won’t take too much added pressure on themselves, and if they do that and just play their games, they’ll be fine.”
As for Dube’s second appearance at an NHL camp and Lind’s first, Mallette said the experience can only be a benefit to both the players and the Rockets.
“I think it’s a confidence booster for them,” Mallette said. “These guys are trying to make that next step and it gives them confidence knowing they’re able to have success at that level.
“They know coming back (to the Rockets) and working hard will help them meet the expectations that come from the pro level. The message is the same from us as it is from their NHL teams. We’re on the same page, we want them to continually improve so the day will come they can move on and play pro.”
Dube and Lind are among 10 Rockets currently at NHL training camps.
The Rockets will open the WHL regular season Friday, Sept. 22 at home to the Kamloops Blazers.