With two of the biggest midget hockey tournaments in Western Canada looming, not to mention Christmas, the Okanagan Rockets return to Kelowna this weekend for what should be a tough test against one of the only teams to beat the Rockets this season.
Okanagan (18-3-1) hosts the Valley West Hawks (15-6-1) for a pair of games in Kelowna this weekend as the team plays out the final two weekends of action prior to the BCMML’s Christmas break.
“We’ve identified the Hawks as an opponent we have to be wary of as far as our championship goals,” said Rockets manager David Michaud. “We have a chance to push our lead over them in the standings, but more importantly we want to keep playing good hockey. I think we went through a down stretch over the last month, where we gave some opportunities to teams that we shouldn’t have. Sometimes we are on our own worst enemy in terms of playing with intensity for 60 minutes.”
The Rockets and Hawks split two games earlier this season in Richmond.
Following this weekend the Rockets close out the BCMML pre-Christmas schedule with a home and home set next weekend with the Thompson Blazers. The team’s final game comes on Dec. 22 but there won’t be much of a Christmas break for players who will leave Christmas Day for the annual Mac’s Midget Tournament in Calgary. The Rockets will also play in the annual Kelowna International Midget Tournament Jan. 8 to 12.
“We’re excited for these tournaments coming up,” said Michaud. “It’s an opportunity to break up the monotony of a long season and I think we can use it for good preparation for the playoffs. They are short tournaments, you never know what’s going to happen and you have to play very well.”
It will be the seventh straight year Okanagan has played in the Mac’s tournament but due to scheduling in the BCMML one of the only times they have played in the KIMMIT event.
“It’s tough we can’t support the KIMMIT every year even though we would like to,” said Michaud. “We only get two bye weekends a year and this year the stars lined up. We have a lot of Kelowna kids this year and this is the premier event for Kelowna Minor Hockey so it will be nice to play in it and see some teams that we don’t get a chance to see on a regular basis.”
This weekend the Rockets will host the Valley West Hawks Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Capital News Centre.