Rockets rookie notches first two

Top draft pick Rourke Chartier making smooth transition to WHL game

Rockets rookie Rourke Chartier scored his first two WHL goals Saturday night in Prince George.

It wasn’t like there was any great panic for Rourke Chartier to score his first Western Hockey League goal.

Still, spotting the puck sitting in the net behind Cougars’ goaltender Devon Fordyce late in the first period Saturday night in Prince George was a satisfying moment for the 16-year-old Kelowna Rockets rookie from Saskatoon.

“It was pretty lucky,” said Chartier, whose first WHL goal was unassisted. “I just threw it at the net, it banked off his pads and went in.

“I had some chances before that, so it was nice to finally get one. I wasn’t too worried, I knew if I kept working, one was going to eventually go in.”

It only took Chartier until his seventh game to score his first WHL goal and he wasn’t quite done there. Just shy of three minutes later, at the 2:15 mark of the second period, Chartier took a pass from Zach Franko and snapped it glove side past Brett Zarowny. The club’s top draft choice (15th overall) in the 2011 bantam draft, the 5-foot-10, 165-pound Chartier finished the night with two goals and an assist as the Rockets outlasted the Cougars for a 7-5 win.

An offensively gifted player in minor hockey in Saskatchewan, Chartier hasn’t taken long to display his talents at the major junior level.

“He’s had some chances, so it’s nice to see Rourke get rewarded relatively early in his junior career,” said Rockets head coach Ryan Huska. “He’s an intelligent player that the more he plays, the better he’s going to get and the more offense he’s going to generate. We’re looking forward to watching him continue to develop.”

While Chartier already has two goals to his credit, Huska expects the gifted centreman will become known more for his playmaking acumen over the course his WHL career.

And as he continues to work on refining his defensive game, the Rockets expect Chartier to develop into a complete package.

“The challenge for Rourke, like so many young players who are new to the league, is to understand  the defensive side of the game, taking pride in being a two-way player, and challenging himself to be a complete player,” Huska said. “He’s already good defensively because of his intelligence. Now it’s a matter of getting more comfortable, knowing his responsibilities, and he’ll get even better.”

Chartier said the puck from his WHL first goal—retrieved by teammate Tyson Baillie—will likely end up residing in his room at his family’s house back in Saskatoon.

Chartier’s dad, Marc Chartier, played four seasons in the WHL and three more with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in the 1980s.

Rocket Shots…The Rockets (3-3-0-1) will host the Spokane Chiefs Wednesday. Face-off at Prospera Place is 7:05 p.m.…Myles Bell had a goal and four points in Saturday’s 7-5 win over Prince George and now shares the Rockets scoring lead with five goals and 11 points in seven games. Captain Colton Sissons has three goals and eight assists.