The B.C. Major Midget League’s Okanagan Rockets will take to the Capital News Centre ice Thursday to officially open the 2014-2015 season.
Sixteen goalies will kick off the Rockets annual evaluation camp on Thursday. They will be joined on Friday by nearly 90 skaters who be split into five teams. Scrimmages go Friday through Sunday morning before the Rockets staff led by general manager David Michaud and new head coach Simon Ferguson meet with players Sunday afternoon. By the time camp wraps up, the Rockets will commit to a minimum of 11 skaters and one goaltender.
There is little doubt that this version of the Rockets will have a decidedly new look to it when compared to the 2013-2014 version that captured national bronze in Moose Jaw during the Telus Cup in April.
Despite the turnover, general manger David Michaud is optimistic heading into camp.
“For starters, we led the BCMML in tryout numbers for a third straight season,” said Michaud. “The Okanagan Valley has always blessed us with a tremendous talent pool to build our hockey club with and while it would be nice to have a Tyson Jost or Jake Kryski back this season, someone new will step up and help our club win.”
Michaud doesn’t have to look any further for motivation than the team the Rockets defeated to reach the Telus Cup. In 2011-2012, the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs won their first Telus Cup and then proceeded to graduate 19 players. With just one returning member in 2012-2013, the Chiefs claimed their second consecutive national championship.
After the weekend, Rockets staff hopes to have their numbers down between 30 to 35 players. After the weekend, most players will hit the road for their respective junior camps and who comes back is anyone’s guess.
“I’ve been at this for five seasons now, and it never fails. If you think a player is coming back, they crack a junior squad, and if you are convinced a player will graduate, they sometimes fall back to you for whatever reason.” said Michaud.
The Rockets won’t gather as a group again until early September when they play host to their annual exhibition ice-breaker event from the 5th to 7th at the Capital News Centre.