The Kelowna Rockets are Zak Stebner's sixth WHL team.

Well-travelled D-man fits with Rockets

  • Tue Feb 22nd, 2011 4:00pm
  • Sports

While no such records are kept, Zak Stebner just might be major junior hockey’s active leader for the largest number of friends on Facebook. Now with his sixth team in the span of five seasons, the 6-foot-3 205 pound Kelowna Rockets defenceman has accumulated a vast collection of acquaintances like few others. “My friend total (on Facebook) is way up there, maybe in the thousands,” said Stebner said with a laugh. “Just about every game I play, I get to see someone I know well, somebody I played with at one time. I’ve got a lot of friends in the league, and I’ve lived all across Western Canada and in the States. That’s one of the cool things about being traded as much as I have.” Stebner was traded for the fifth—and final—time in his WHL career in December when the Rockets acquired the rugged Saskatoon native from the Tri-City Americans for a pair of draft picks. Other stops along the way have come in Red Deer, Prince Albert, Kamloops and Calgary. While being traded an average of once a season isn’t an ideal scenario for any player, Stebner prefers to put only a positive spin on his own situation. “Obviously it’s something I can’t control, so I’ve always tried to roll with the punches and make the best of it each time,” said Stebner, 20, who had six goals and six assists in his first 30 games. “I’ve met a lot of great people along the way, and it’s been a pleasure to play in this league. You get to see all the different systems teams use, play for different coaches…it’s an interesting way to see the league. I actually wouldn’t change any of it.” At least one benefit to all the moving has been Stebner’s ability to adapt relatively quickly to new situations. After a somewhat tentative start upon arriving in Kelowna, Rockets assistant coach Dan Lambert said Stebner has fit in well with his new team, on and off the ice. “He can eat up a lot of minutes for you, he has good size and a good shot,” said Lambert. “He scored a few goals for us lately and I feel like he’s really starting to show the kind of game he can play. When he’s playing at the top of game, there aren’t many guys better. “He’s also a very positive guy, he likes to have fun and he fits in well,” added Lambert. “When you play for six teams you learn how to adapt.” As for Stebner’s take on his sixth and final WHL team, the veteran blue liner couldn’t have picked a much better place to close out his days in junior. “I like the way the team treats its players, there are a lot of perks to playing here, and our fans are great,” said Stebner. “This is a really good team, too, we’ve showed when we play our game, we can beat anybody. We’ve beaten all the top teams in the league, so there’s no reason we can’t have a good playoff run if we play like we can. It’s exciting to be here…I feel like I ended up in the right place.” Rocket Shots…The Rockets continue their eastern road trip Wednesday night in Medicine Hat against the Tigers…Kelowna will play in Red Deer Friday, in Calgary Sunday and in Kamloops next Wednesday…The Rockets next home action is Friday, March 4 against Chilliwack. whenderson@kelownacapnews.com