The Kelowna Rockets will open the WHL regular season this weekend against the Kamloops Blazers in a home-and-home that will see the team’s meet Friday in Kamloops and Saturday in Kelowna.
Who will be in each team’s line-up is anybody’s guess at this point.
Both WHL teams have multiple players away at NHL camps this year with the Rockets missing eight players who are attending NHL camps in addition to veterans Rourke Chartier and Justin Kirkland, both who are not expected to return this season.
The Blazers also sent eight players to NHL camps this year so neither team knows quite what kind of roster to expect come Friday.
As of Tuesday at noon, the Rockets had not heard about any of its players being sent back to Kelowna to re-join the Rockets.
“We’ll just see how it shakes out,” said Rockets head coach Jason Smith. “We are going to continue to work and continue to do the things we are doing and see what we have for a roster on Friday night.”
Players Dillon Dube (Calgary) and Tomas Soustal (Edmonton) took part in the annual Young Stars tournament in Penticton while Devante Stephens (Buffalo), Lucas Johansen (Washington), Calvin Thurkauf (Columbus), Braydyn Chizen (Minnesota) and Gordie Ballhorn (Dallas) all remained at NHL camps on Tuesday. Nick Merkley is also still in Arizona with the Coyotes.
Smith said it was good to get through the WHL Preseason and he’s looking forward to the regular season beginning.
“It’s going to be exciting,” he said. “The preseason is finished and I mentioned that to the players: Now it’s time to take the next step forward. The games start to mean something and it’s important to play a full game.”