One of the most intense rivalries in B.C. midget hockey will be renewed this weekend in Kelowna.
The defending BCMML champion Okanagan Rockets and four-time champion Vancouver Northwest Giants will square off in a doubleheader at the Capital News Centre.
Coach Simon Ferguson’s Rockets (2-0-0) are back on the ice after a bye week, while the Giants come in as the league leaders with a spotless 4-0-0 mark.
The two teams are squaring off for the first time since Okanagan took down the Giants in a sweep in the BCMML final.
Both teams are made up of mostly new faces, with 19 newcomers on the Rockets and 15 on the Vancouver side.
Despite the large turnover of players, Rockets GM David Michaud doesn’t expect the rivalry to lose any of its appeal.
“We do our best to make sure our guys know how meaningful these games are, and even if they are new to the rivalry, it won’t take them long to understand what it means,” said Michaud. “That’s what makes hockey so great, if you become a Maple Leaf you don’t like the Habs. It’s the same with our guys and the Giants.”
Both clubs have players who are off to hot starts in the BCMML scoring race, perhaps none hotter than the Rockets’ own Marcus Mitchell who is tied for league lead in goals with five, despite the bye weekend.
Nash Dabb and Wilson Northey lead the Giants with six points each in four games.
At the other end of the rink, Okanagan netminder Jordan Reynolds has been solid, making 66 saves in 70 shots in the club’s season-opening sweep of the Northeast Chiefs.
Face off between the Rockets and Giants on Saturday at CNC is 3 p.m., with Sunday’s matchup to start at 10 a.m.