Rockets’ Alex Swetlikoff looks for the puck in a match-up against Spokane last season. The Rockets open the season against the Chiefs at Prospera Place Saturday night. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Kelowna Rockets Images)

Rockets’ Alex Swetlikoff looks for the puck in a match-up against Spokane last season. The Rockets open the season against the Chiefs at Prospera Place Saturday night. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Kelowna Rockets Images)

New faces, slate empowering Rockets ahead of season

Kelowna starts their WHL season Saturday night at Prospera Place

With a plethora of new players set to wear Rockets jerseys this season, Kelowna is ready to start the year Saturday on a new slate.

After last season’s tie-breaker loss to the Kamloops Blazers that knocked Kelowna out of the playoffs, the Rockets’ added new coaching and nearly 10 new players to the roster this year. With the Memorial Cup ahead, the Rockets are starting the year on a fresh page.

“We don’t even talk about last year with our group,” said head coach Adam Foote.

“We have quite a few new faces, we’ve instilled a new culture for this season. It was a long break, and we have a fresh start, it’s going to be a long season. We talk about developing and moving forward.”

READ MORE: Kelowna Rockets GM anxious for season’s start

READ MORE: West Kelowna Warriors look for 2nd win in Merritt

For the first time in eight years, the Rockets will open up the season against a team other than the Blazers. Kelowna hosts the Spokane Chiefs in their home-opener Saturday night for the first time since 1996.

Starting the season with a change seems to be fitting for the Rockets as they embrace the year with multiple changes in their roster which started at the WHL Bantam Draft in May.

In the near five months of the off-season, the Rockets added defenceman Jake Lee, Carson Sass and Sean Comrie, forwards Dillon Hamaliuk, Jake Poole, Deegan Mofford and Pavel Novak as well as goalie Cole Schwebius. Meanwhile, Trevor Wong and Elias Carmichael, two young players, have cracked the opening night roster for the Rockets.

READ MORE: It’s playoffs or bust for Okanagan Sun with only 4 games remaining

Kelowna got a good look at the young players and new faces during training camps and with a large chunk of the Rockets’ core away at NHL camps. But ahead of Saturday’s puck-drop, the Rockets will start the season minus just Nolan Foote.

“Training camp is an interesting dynamic where you have younger lineups to start. For us we had a young lineup, we had seven guys away at NHL camps. Some of them we’re gone for a while, and we haven’t had our full lineup yet, it’s nice to have almost everyone back,” said Foote.

Newly-acquired Rockets player Dillon Hamaliuk will make his debut Saturday night. The left-winger was traded to Kelowna at the draft and had a busy off-season after being drafted 55th overall at June’s NHL draft and playing for the San Jose Sharks rookie camps.

“Playing with the Rockets has been a long time coming, I’ve been waiting for this moment since May,” said Hamaliuk.

“I’ve found that everyone here is super accepting, it has helped me get adjusted. Spokane is a hard-working team, I think we should be able to dominate them if we play our game.”

READ MORE: Rockets host tailgate party ahead of anticipated home-opener

A tailgate party in downtown Kelowna will lead into Saturday night’s puck-drop.

The Rockets start the season at 7 p.m. at Prospera Place.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Kelowna Rockets

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(File photo)
UBCO introduces another reading break in November

The break only affects the Okanagan campus

A man wearing a mask against coronavirus walks past an NHS advertisement about COVID-19 in London, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
92 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths: Interior Health

The region is reporting 92 cases after the weekend

All Regional District of Central Okanagan residents receiving curbside garbage/recycling collection will also benefit from yard waste pick up every two weeks as of March 1, 2021. The program runs until the end of December. (Black Press file photo)
Central Okanagan residents to benefit from yard waste pickup

Will happen every two weeks until end of December

Photo: Dave Ogilvie
Taxi involved in 3 vehicle crash in West Kelowna

The incident happened about 3:30 p.m. Monday

High Road at Clifton Road. Google.
City of Kelowna takes High Road pump station above ground

Work will begin this week on the Skyline Pump Station

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Pastafarian Gary Smith, pictured here dressed as a pirate, wanted to wear his tricorn (also pictured here) in his driver’s licence photo, arguing that the display was a religious observance. Photo: Facebook
B.C. Pastafarian loses Supreme Court fight to wear pirate hat in driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith of Grand Forks, put his case to the Supreme Court in Rossland in early February

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

City council passed resolution in support of an expansion of the licence area at Salmon Arm’s Marionette Winery for the inclusion of a lounge area. (Marionette Winery/Facebook)
Salmon Arm council supports lounge addition at Shuswap winery

Marionette Winery expanding licence area to host small gatherings

Vernon’s Noric House long-term care facility’s COVID-10 outbreak has been declared over by Interior Health. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
COVID outbreak at Vernon’s Noric House declared over

10 deaths were linked to the outbreak at long-term care facility

An injured skier was helivaced from Apex Mountain Resort to Kelowna General Hospital Monday, March, 2021. (Linda Geggie / Facebook)
Injured skier helivaced from Apex Mountain Resort

The skier was taken to Kelowna General Hospital

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Most Read