Just two games into his second tour as captain of the Kelowna Rockets, it looks like Madison Bowey means business.
Since returning from the training camp of the NHL’s Washington Capitals, the 19-year-old defenceman has two goals and eight points, leaving little doubt about his role as the undisputed leader of the Western Hockey League club.
“Obviously we can’t expect Madison to continue to get points at this rate, but he’s certainly led us in a way we hoped he would,” said Rockets’ head coach Dan Lambert. “Whenever we’re down, he tries to rally the guys. He did a good job of that (Wednesday) against Vancouver. He’s a pretty special player.”
In Bowey’s season debut Saturday night in Prince George, the Winnipeg native rang up three assists in an 8-2 Rockets’ win.
On Wednesday, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound blue liner scored twice and added three assists against Vancouver as Kelowna pushed its unbeaten record to 4-0.
Bowey was named the game’s first star on both nights.
With lessons learned and a full season as captain under his belt, Bowey embraces the idea of pushing his leadership role to another level.
“I feel a lot more comfortable in the position now, how to carry myself, coming to the rink everyday ready to work hard and leading by example,” said Bowey, who set a club record for goals by a defenceman last season with 21. “It’s definitely a chance to help establish a good base of working hard and taking pride in being a Rocket. I’m excited about this season.”
As for his play on the ice, Bowey is also taking steps to try and become a more complete player.
“I’m playing confident, not trying to do too much, just making sure I’m consistent and playing well,” he said. “It’s knowing when to jump up into the play, when not to…and just bringing a work ethic every night, that’s my goal.”
And while there will be the inevitable bumps along the way, Lambert said Bowey
should continue to evolve in his role as the club’s inspirational leader.
“Being a second-year captain you learn a lot from your first,” said Lambert. “He knows he has better support now, he understands more now about what he needs to do. Those things will make him a better captain this year.”
Bowey’s five-point effort—including two shorthanded goals—highlighted an unusual game Wednesday, as the Rockets prevailed 7-5 over Vancouver.
The Giants jumped out to a 3-0 lead, then watched the Rockets connect for six consecutive goals and a seemingly secure 6-3 advantage.
But on a night when momentum shifts were plentiful and special teams ruled, the Giants scored on two late power plays to make it interesting, before Bowey sealed the game with his second goal into an empty net.
Nine of the 12 goals were scored on special teams—six on the power play, three shorthanded.
Lambert was satisfied with the final result but not with the Kelowna’s sluggish start—a trend the head coach doesn’t want to become a recurring theme.
“We thought it was going to be an easy night,” said Lambert. “Obviously they were here on business, they wanted to make statement, which they certainly did in the first period and we stood and watched. I thought once we started skating a little bit in the second things got better.”
The Rockets, who got three points apiece from Nick Merkley and Rourke Chartier, have outscored the opposition 28-10 this season.
Rockets head south
The Rockets take their unbeaten record south to Washington this weekend for a doubleheader.
On Friday night in Everett, a matchup of unbeaten teams features the Rockets (4-0) and the Silvertips (3-0).
On Saturday, Kelowna will travel to Kent to face the Seattle Thunderbirds.
“We know Everett’s undefeated and the way they’re coached, they’re not going to give us a whole lot,” said Lambert. “And Seattle is never an easy building to go into, so it should be a fun weekend.”
Kelowna’s next home action is next Tuesday night at home to the Swift Current Broncos. Face off is 7 p.m.
The Broncos feature Jay Merkley, the older brother of Rockets forward Nick Merkley. The two are tied for second in WHL scoring with nine points each.