The Okanagan Rockets defensive corps was bolstered this week with the return of Carter Rhine from the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles.
Rhine, a 6-foot, 188-pound defenceman had four goals and 68 points in 78 games last season for midget/prep squads at the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton.
Rhine joins fellow 17-year-old Mark Krabben, who was returned to the Rockets last week from the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies to form a strong core of experience on the back end.
Krabben was instrumental in the Rockets’ success last season as he posted four goals and 10 assists while playing in all 40 games.
“We really feel the combination of Mark Krabben and Carter Rhine stabilizes our defence, and our dressing room,” said Rockets general manager David Michaud. “Mark brings back a wealth of experience to our club from last season’s squad that won bronze at the national championships, and Carter just adds a level of composure and maturity that is tough to find in midget hockey. Both players will offer our group tremendous leadership skills off the ice, and tons of experience and skill on it.”
Krabben and Rhine will be expected to mentor along the Kamloops Blazers third overall selection in the WHL draft, Nolan Kneen.
Krabben, while initially disappointed to not crack the Grizzlies squad was able to come away from camp with a ton of experience on what it takes at the next level, and even more importantly a commitment for the 2015-2016 season.
“Outside of making Victoria this season, it’s the next best thing he could have asked for,” said Michaud. “This will be a great season of development for Mark and he can prepare to be in Victoria next season.”
With the addition of Connor Bowey and Danny Gatenby, the Rockets feel their defence has the potential to be one of the strongest groups they have ever been able to assemble. The club is currently waiting for word on veteran Mitchell Oliver and Sam De Melo, 16. who is having a tremendous camp with Salmon Arm.
The Rockets open defence of their BCMML championship on Sept. 20 as they host the NE Chiefs at the Capital News Centre.