When the Everett Silvertips dropped Cody Fowlie off their roster last month, the over-age forward figured his major junior career just might be over for good.
Thankfully for the Airdrie, Alta. native, it wasn’t long before another Western Hockey League club came calling.
After a brief three-game stint with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers, the Kelowna Rockets laid claim to the 6-foot, 200-pound Fowlie on Oct. 22.
With a pair of 20-year-old players on the shelf with injuries, the Rockets needed some veteran assistance. Fowlie was all too happy to oblige.
“It was tough at first when I got cut in Everett, but you have to hope you’re going to get other opportunities,” said Fowlie, who is in his third WHL season. “I was a little disappointed at being out of the WHL, but when Mr. (Bruce) Hamilton called me I was really excited about coming to Kelowna. Now I just have to make the most of the opportunity that’s been given to me.”
And it didn’t take all that long for Fowlie to get comfortable in his new surroundings. Playing on a line with Rourke Chartier and Filip Vasko, he had three goals, four points and a +4 rating in his first six games as a Rocket.
Kelowna head coach Ryan Huska said Fowlie has been a positive addition for the hockey club, on and off the ice.
“I think he’s progressed nicely,” Huska said. “He’s brought what we thought he’d bring, he plays with energy, he’s a hard guy to play against and he’s giving us some offense as well.
“He enjoys being around the rink, he’s very positive and has a strong attitude. You need that from a 20-year-old.”
Fowlie clearly hopes his move to Kelowna will be more than temporary and he will finish his WHL career in Rockets colours,
But with four 20-year-old players on the roster—Fowlie, Dylen McKinlay, J.T. Barnett and Mitchell Chapman—one will eventually have to be released.
Once Barnett (lower body, 2 weeks) and Chapman (leg, one month) return to health, the Rockets will have a decision to make on who stays and who goes.
“It feels like being back in training camp again,” Fowlie said with a laugh. “All of us have to make the most of our opportunities and play our hardest every game. Whatever the GM and coaches decide to do, that’s the way it’s going to be.
“This is a second chance for me, so I’m not taking anything for granted,” he added.
From the head coach’s perspective, parting with one of the over-aged veterans will be a difficult decision but one that can’t be avoided.
“It makes for good competition and you want that, but unfortunately one of them will have to go,” said Huska.
“Each of them will have an opportunity to solidify their position with our hockey club. We’ll have a tough decision to make on which young man we have to let go, but that’s part of the game.”
Fowlie and the Rockets will host the defending WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings on Wednesday night.
The Rockets will close out a four-game home stand Friday against the Red Deer Rebels.
Then, after a week off, Kelowna will head to Tri-City for two games with the Americans, Nov. 23 and 24.