Second-year forward Tyson Baillie had 10 goals in his first 27 games with the Kelowna Rockets this season

Sitting out ignites Rockets’ Baillie

Kelowna forward misses games early, ramps up game to get back in the WHL team's lineup

Like most hockey players with a competitive streak, Tyson Baillie wasn’t content with being a healthy scratch.

After having his name deleted from the starting lineup four times earlier this season, the Kelowna Rockets’ forward decided it was time to make some changes.

“No one likes sitting out,” said Baillie, 17, in his second season with the Rockets. “It’s painful to watch when the team is doing well, and you can’t be part of it.

“It drives you to be better and I knew I had to work a lot harder, do extra things at practise, and do a better job of taking care of myself. It’s a lot nicer playing than sitting.”

Since last being scratched on Nov. 24, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. native has been one of the Rockets’ most productive forwards.

Prior to Wednesday night’s game in Lethbridge, Baillie had four goals and six assists in his last seven games, including back-to-back two-goal efforts against Prince George and the Kootenay Ice.

With fewer injuries and considerably more depth on the Rockets’ roster this season, keeping a spot in the starting lineup isn’t a given like it often was a year ago.

Kelowna head coach Ryan Huska said it didn’t take long for Baillie to get the message.

“One thing about Tyson is that he loves to play the game, so that was a tough stretch for him to go through earlier this season,” said Huska. “He had to face up to that and find a way to get back in the lineup. He’s learned how to work harder, he’s moving his feet now, and he’s becoming a better two-way player. His shifts are shorter and he’s understanding better what it takes be more consistent. He’s been playing very well for us.”

As a 16-year-old WHL rookie last season Baillie scored 10 goals in 68 games. He’s already scored 10 times this season and has 19 points in just 27 games.

Like many of his teammates, Baillie is not only feeling better about his own game these days, but also the success the Rockets are enjoying as a team.

“It’s very positive, everyone gets along well, and we’re playing the game at a very high tempo,” said Baillie. “No one wants to sit, so the competition for ice time is good.

It’s a lot more fun when you’re winning, too.”

The Rockets’ Central Division road trip and pre-Christmas schedule wraps up with three games this weekend. Kelowna is in Medicine Hat on Friday, Red Deer on Saturday and Calgary on Sunday.

The Rockets next home action is Thursday, Dec. 27 against the Kamloops Blazers.

 

Just Posted

Kelowna motel robbed, suspect sought

The suspect threatened to harm the lone front desk clerk and demanded money.

Penticton reporter reflects on covering Charles Manson

Charles Manson, leader of a murderous cult, died on Sunday at 83

West Kelowna neighbourhood fed up with criminal activity

Prowler frustrating West Kelowna residents

Big White to send off Olympians in style

Okanagan ski resort picked as location for official send-off of Canada’s 2018 Winter Olympic team

Flames ruin birthday in Lake Country

Fire crews were called to a home in Lake Country, Sunday night

Heavy snowfall expected on Coquihalla

Snow forecast for mountain highways

Coyotes grab Okanagan boys title

George Elliott defeats Seaton in AA volleyball final, seeded third heading to provincials

ICBC overbilling for crash repairs not the problem, dealers say

Collision repair shops reject union claim of inflated costs

Last day for shoeboxes at Kelowna Gospel Fellowship

Kelowna church has been gathering gifts for kids in need in countries around the world

Owls soar to Okanagan volleyball title

KSS girls win 4A championship for 12th straight year beating Pen Hi in final

B.C. groups to address child sex abuse in sports

viaSport is organizing a full day of education in association with Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Coaching Association of Canada.

Report sets exercise guidelines for young kids, including ‘tummy time’ for babies

Kids aged one to four should get at least three hours of physical activity throughout the day

Stampeders return to Grey Cup with 32-28 win over Edmonton Eskimos

The Stampeders will face the Toronto Argonauts next Sunday in Ottawa for the title

Traxxas Monster Truck Tour to roll into Kelowna

Monster Trucks at Prospera Place on Jan. 13-14, 2018.

Most Read