As an 11th round pick—223rd overall—in the 2007 Western Hockey League bantam draft, Brett Bulmer was almost an afterthought.
Today the Prince George native is giving the Kelowna Rockets far more than they bargained for.
Bulmer, 17, has proven to be one of one of the WHL’s most productive rookies in 2009-10 with 11 goals and 20 assists in 31 games.
With both skill and a physical edge on his side, the 6-foot-3 Bulmer was on the team’s radar from the start, but assistant GM Lorne Frey admits the Rockets couldn’t possibly have known how nicely their last pick in 2007 would pan out three years later.
“In bantam, he was only about 5-foot-7, and sometimes he competed hard and showed skill, then other times he was non-existent,” said Frey, who is also the club’s head scout. “But there was potential and there was a lot we liked about him, so we took a shot at him in the 11th round.
“When he started to grow you could see his upside more and more. By his second year of midget (in Prince George) he was near the top in league scoring and we knew we had a guy with a lot of potential,” Frey continued. “He’s a power forward with a lot of skill, he has very quick hands and we like his competitiveness.
“Having said that, he still has lots of room to improve and develop and, as he gets older, we expect he’ll be more consistent.”
For Bulmer’s part, being overlooked until the 11th round only served as motivation for him one day crack the lineup of one of the WHL’s most successful franchises.
“Even being drafted as late as I was, I always felt like I had a chance to make it,” Bulmer said. “I kind of liked being challenged and fighting through that. I didn’t want to miss out on the chance.
“I knew it would be tough to crack a championship team like the Rockets, but I just kept working and never gave up.”
And that hard work has been paying considerable dividends for both Bulmer and the Rockets. The lanky forward was a key figure in the team’s recent nine-game winning streak producing two goals, six assists and a +2 rating.
On Wednesday in Everett, Bulmer also demonstrated his willingness to mix it up physically when he dropped the gloves with the Silvertips’ Alex Theriau in an effort to give his team a spark. It’s the kind of overall presence Bulmer hopes to supply the Rockets on a nighty basis.
“My confidence is building with each game and it’s my goal to be one of the best forwards out there every night,” he said. “I want to be a dynamic forward that my team can look to for offense.”
Rocket Shots…The Rockets and Blazers will meet this weekend for a home-and-home set—Friday in Kamloops and Saturday at Prospera Place in Kelowna. The Rockets (28-26-2-2) lead the Blazers (26-26-2-4) by two points for sixth place in the Western Conference…Kelowna’s nine-game winning streak ended Wednesday in Everett in a 4-0 loss to the Silvertips. It was the third time the Rockets had been shutout this season…Rockets D Dallas Jackson missed his third straight game Wednesday with a leg injury and is listed as day-to-day.