Golden D-men to anchor Rockets blue line

Captain Madison Bowey to return and newly-acquired Josh Morrissey expected to make Kelowna debut this weekend

Kelowna Rockets' captain Madison Bowey won gold with Team Canada this week at the World Junior Hockey Championship

Kelowna Rockets' captain Madison Bowey won gold with Team Canada this week at the World Junior Hockey Championship

Madison Bowey and Josh Morrissey did their part in helping boost Canada back to world junior hockey supremacy.

Now the dynamic, defensive duo will anchor the Kelowna blue line as the Rockets make a push for the 2014-15 Western Hockey League title.

Morrissey, acquired last month from the Prince Albert Raiders, was named to the world junior tournament’s all-star team. Bowey, the Rockets’ captain, played in all situations for Canada and gained plenty of big game experience in the process.

With two of major junior hockey’s elite players at his disposal, Rockets head coach Dan Lambert said the WHL club’s blue line should be in good hands.

“We had a good record while Madison was away, but to be able to insert both of those guys into our lineup will be huge for us,” said Lambert. “Just to play through the pressure and experiences on such a big stage, that will benefit both of those guys. Those experiences are valuable and they’re going to be valuable to our team.”

Although Bowey has already been the Rockets’ captain for 1 1/2 seasons, Lambert said the world junior experience can only enhance the Winnipeg native’s leadership abilities.

“I think Madison has grown and matured in a lot of ways since he became our captain,” said Lambert. “To be put in the situations he was and to come through the way he did, he’s going to mature even more. That’s huge for us.”

If all goes as planned, Bowey and Morrissey will be in the Rockets lineup Saturday night when the Medicine Hat Tigers pay a visit to Prospera Place.

Meanwhile, Lambert will have another elite player to insert into the lineup on Wednesday night when Leon Draisaitl makes his Rockets debut against the Vancouver Giants.

The 6-foot-2, 216-pound Draisaitl, who spent the first half of the season with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, was acquired from the Prince Albert Raiders this week for forward Kris Schmidli, defenceman Dalton Yorke and three bantam draft picks.

“You never like to see guys like Kris and Dalton go, but when you can acquire one of the best 19-year-old players in the world, then it’s something you have to be excited about,” Lambert said of Draisaitl, a third overall pick of the Oilers in the 2014 NHL entry draft. “It’s not only what he can add to our team as a whole, but it’s how he can make our team better individually, how he can make everybody around him better.”

In 37 games with the Oilers this season, Draisaitl had two goals and nine points.


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