Tom Watters admits his team will be in tough at this week’s Western Canadian Bantam AAA Hockey Championship.
Still, the Kelowna tier 1 head coach expects nothing less than a full-fledged effort from his host Rockets throughout the four-day tourney.
“I think we just want to see a good compete level from the boys and we want to do a good job of representing Kelowna,” said Watters. “These boys worked hard all year, and we want to continue to do that. The boys are well aware of what’s ahead, they’re going to face some very stiff competition. It’s not going to be easy, but the boys will come to play.”
The five-team western championship begins Thursday at 1 p.m. at Rutland Arena West, with the Rockets taking on B.C.-champion North Shore Winter Club.
Kelowna lost 6-1 to North Shore at last month’s provincials in Prince George.
Also competing are the Alberta-champion Lloydminster Heat, the Yorkton Terriers from Saskatchewan, and the Manitoba-champion Winnipeg Monarchs, as Kelowna prepares to showcase many of the best bantam players in Western Canada.
“People are going to see some really talented, young players at this tournament,” added Watters. “We’re expecting about 75 scouts, lots from WHL teams and junior A to be here to watch.”
The Rockets will play again Thursday at 8 p.m. against Manitoba, following the opening ceremonies at Rutland Arena. Kelowna then takes on Team Alberta Friday at 4 p.m., before wrapping up the four-game round robin Saturday at 9 a.m. against Yorkton, Sask.
Four of the five teams will make the playoffs, with the bronze medal game scheduled for 10 a.m. on Sunday. The gold medal final for the western championship will follow at 1 p.m.
A pass for the entire tournament is $25.