Like any father, Kelowna Rockets GM Bruce Hamiton wants his son to enjoy his birthday.
Just not at the expense of his hockey team.
Curtis Hamilton turns 19 on Saturday, the same night his Saskatoon Blades pay their lone visit of the season to Prospera Place.
The younger Hamilton has been a key figure in his club’s ascent to the top of the Eastern Conference standings this season. The 6-foot-3 205 pound Kelowna Minor Hockey product leads the Blades with 15 goals and 39 points in 27 games.
He also tops the league in plus-minus with a +27 rating.
“I want him to have a real good night and play real well,” Bruce Hamilton said of Curtis. “But wins are lot more important to the Kelowna Rockets. I’m not sure his mom feels that way, but that’s the way it has to be for us.”
It will be Curtis’ first visit to Kelowna for a WHL game since Dec. 3, 2008 when the Blades beat the Rockets 4-2.
Two years older and with an extra 75 games of experience under his belt, Hamilton hopes to be somewhat looser this time around.
“I’ll probably be a little more relaxed, but whenever I come there, there’s always nerves,” he said. “There’ll be family and friends watching, so that’s exciting and nervewracking at the same time. We’re two teams that are playing well right now, so it should be fun.”
On the subject of the Rockets, the elder Hamilton’s team is the hottest club in the WHL with 11 wins in 12 games.
Kelowna (15-11-0-0) has vaulted from dead last in the Western Conference to fourth place in the span of just over a month.
Coincidentally, the Blades (20-6-0-1) are the second hottest team overall with eight wins and a shootout loss in their last 10.
Bruce Hamiton said Saturday’s game against one of the league’s elite teams will be a good measuring stick for his club.
“This will be a real good test for us,” he said. “We chugged along through November, now we’ll see where we’re at. (The Blades), Portland, Medicine Hat, Tri-City, those are the teams you have to compete with. I hope the Blades win all their games except for the one on Saturday.”
Rocket Shots…The Rockets will be in Chilliwack Friday night. Kelowna has won both meetings aganist the Bruins (12-10-2-1) this season…Zach Franko had a goal and an assist and Adam Brown made 20 saves as the Rockets edged Seattle 3-2 on Wednesday at Prospera.