The Okanagan Rockets will open defense of the B.C. Major Midget League championship this weekend as they play host to the Vancouver North East Chiefs.
The teams face off at the Capital News Centre on Saturday at 3 p.m. and again Sunday at 10 a.m.
Here’s a look at what to expect from the defending champion Rockets this season.
When we saw you last: The Rockets went 2-1-1 against the Chiefs last season, outscoring them 23-17 in the process. The Rockets were 1-1-0 in Coquitlam, while they were 1-0-1 at the CNC. The 7-7 tie in the 39th game of the season proved to be the lone smudge on an otherwise perfect mark at the Capital News Centre where the Rockets went 19-0-1 last season.
Home sweet home: The Capital News Centre has proven to be one of the toughest buildings in all of the BCMML. Over the past two regular seasons, the host Rockets have just two regulation losses, thanks to a 33-2-5 record.
New faces, new energy: The 2014-15 edition of the Rockets looks remarkably different than the squad that claimed bronze at the 2014 Telus Cup in Moose Jaw, Sask. This year’s club boasts 19 new faces and a new head coach.
Captain my Captain: The lone returning face from the 2013-14 squad is Mark Krabben. The 17-year-old rearguard was named the Rockets captain for the upcoming season last week. Krabben will be joined by fellow 17s Binfet and Carter Rhine as assistant captains. The Rockets will hand out one more ‘A’ later in the season.
Bench boss: Simon Ferguson was named the Rockets new coach this summer, replacing Mack O’Rourke who left hockey to pursue a career in the oil and gas business. The Rockets are Ferguson’s first coaching stop, however his resume is an impressive one with over 550 professional games as well as a Calder Cup championship and Memorial Cup championship with the Kelowna Rockets in 2004.
Age is just a number: The Rockets will once again ice one of the older teams in the BCMML with seven 1997-born players. The roster is rounded out with 10 1998-born players, and three 1999-born players.
Keen on Kneen: Nolan Kneen will set a Rockets club record this weekend as soon as he touches the ice. Kneen will pass Tyson Jost as the highest ever WHL draft pick to suit up for the Okanagan Rockets. Kneen was selected third overall by the Blazers in the 2014 bantam draft, while Jost was taken seventh by the Everett Silvertips in 2013.
Historically speaking: The Rockets are 16-11-5 versus the NE Chiefs since the 2006 season. On home ice, the Rockets are just 7-4-5.