Centre Shane McColgan has been the Rockets top point-getter in each of the last two seasons.

Centre Shane McColgan has been the Rockets top point-getter in each of the last two seasons.

Experience, confidence on McColgan’s side

Speedy forward to bring leadership and scoring to Rockets in 2011-12

He led the Kelowna Rockets in point production in each of his first two seasons in the Western Hockey League.

So what does Shane McColgan do for an encore ?

For starters, the 18-year-old California-born forward has no plans to focus on his day-to-day statistics.

By taking a bigger-picture approach to his game in 2011-12, McColgan expects the offensive numbers will take care of themselves.

“I think I kind of jinxed myself last year, I put a little too much pressure on myself at the start of last year,” said McColgan, who admitted to being affected by the expectations of his draft year.

“I think I’m just going to go with the flow, work my hardest, be a good leader and a good team guy. I want to be more consistent, too. I think that’ll get me pretty far and get me where I need to be point-wise.”

And the Rockets aren’t expecting anything less from the diminutive, yet feisty and skilled forward who racked up 135 points in 138 regular season games over his first two years of major junior hockey, including 69 as a 16-year-old rookie. Last spring, the N.Y. Rangers draft pick also led Kelowna in playoff scoring with 19 points in 10 games.

So it’s little secret that a large degree of the Rockets’ success this season will hinge on the 5-foot-9 speedster’s contributions in the offensive zone.

Still, head coach Ryan Huska said a more well-rounded McColgan will be of even greater value to both himself and to the WHL club.

“I think our expectations for Shane are for him to continue to improve and to take on more leadership with our team,” said Huska. “We want him to maintain his offensive ability and continue working on being a solid two-way player. If he does that, he does everything the right way and plays within the structure of the team, I think he’ll have a terrific year.

“He doesn’t have the draft hanging over his head this year,” added Huska, “and he comes in with more confidence.”

In addition to having two full years of WHL experience under his belt, McColgan returns to Kelowna after a lengthy and eye-opening stay at his first NHL training camp.

McColgan expects his 10-day stint at Rangers’ main camp will only benefit him and his teammates as the 2011-12 season progresses.

“It’ll just give me that much more patience and leadership, it’ll be fun to see how it’ll help me,” said McColgan, a fifth round pick of the Rangers in 2010. “It’s just being around guys like Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan, who was just named captain there. I kind of soaked up what they did on and off the ice, and I think I can bring that here and show some of what I learned to our younger guys.”

McColgan will make his WHL season debut Saturday night against the Vancouver Giants in the Rockets home opener. Face-off at Prospera Place is 7 p.m.



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