The Kelowna Rockets’ pre-season roster will look somewhat sparse this week as eight players are in the process of heading off to National Hockey League rookie camps.
Three Rockets will soon be en route to San Jose—forwards Rourke Chartier and Tyson Baillie, along with defenceman Dalton Yorke.
Third-round NHL draft pick Justin Kirkland will attend his first camp with the Nashville Predators, defenceman Madison Bowey is off to Washington Capitals’ camp for the second year in a row, Mitchell Wheaton will display his skills for the Detroit Red Wings, Tyrell Goulbourne is off to Philadelphia, while goaltender Jackson Whistle has been invited to attend the Vancouver Canucks’ rookie camp in Penticton.
Most will be expected back in time for the club’s regular season opener Saturday, Sept. 20 at Prospera Place against Kamloops.
With a bit of a skeleton crew, the Rockets will wrap up their exhibition schedule with two games this weekend—Friday in Vancouver against the Giants, followed by a Saturday home date against the Victoria Royals at Prospera.
“We’re not going to have a lot of skaters, but at the same time it will give us a chance to work on good habits with our young guys,” said Rockets head coach Dan Lambert. “It’ll be an opportunity for them to learn the systems a little better.”
The Rockets (2-2-0) are coming off a pair of exhibition games over the weekend in Delta.
On Saturday, Colton Heffley scored twice, including an empty-netter as Kelowna beat Vancouver 3-1.
On Sunday, the Victoria Royals downed the Rockets 4-1. Cole Linaker tallied the lone goal in the loss.
Lambert gave the two games mixed reviews.
“I thought or first game was pretty solid, we didn’t give up a lot of chances and offensively we were able to create a little bit, so overall we were pretty happy,” Lambert said. “On Sunday, we got outcompeted, that was unfortunate to see. The guys got frustrated against Victoria, and you could see that in the penalties we took and 12 power plays they had.”
Meanwhile, Rockets rookie forward Dillon Dube suffered a lower body injury last week in practise and is expected to miss about six weeks of action.