Forward Brett Bulmer will make his Rockets season debut Friday against Portland.

Pro career on hold, Bulmer to lead Rockets

19-year-old forward returned to the WHL this week by Minnesota Wild

Being on the ice with his Kelowna Rockets teammates in practise this week brought a much needed smile back to Brett Bulmer’s face.

The 19-year-old forward’s National Hockey League dream was put on hold last weekend when he was reassigned to the WHL team by the Minnesota Wild.

Still, as disheartened as he was initially, Bulmer insists he’s ready to make the best of his return to Kelowna.

“It was pretty disappointing, I thought I was going to be there and I worked hard to make that an opportunity,” Bulmer said Tuesday before practise. “Being 19, you don’t want rush things, going back to junior is only going to help me, and benefit me I think.

“It’s something you dream about as a kid, and I got a big taste of it,” he said of his time in the NHL. “It’s tough to go back, but I can’t really dwell on things, I need to move forward.”

Bulmer played nine games with the Wild, scoring no goals, adding three assists and a +1 rating.

Rather than keeping Bulmer through the 10-game mark and activating the first year of this three-year contract, the Wild opted to give the Prince George native one more year of seasoning in major junior.

Bulmer, who will make his season debut with Kelowna Friday at home to Portland, is ready to assume a leadership role with the Rockets, on and off the ice.

“I need to be a huge leader for this team and try help every single kid in that room, just be a great teammate to them…and be a guy everyone in the room can count on.”

And what does Bulmer think about the possibility of suffering an emotional letdown after experiencing the best month of his hockey life ?

“Not at all,” Bulmer said. “I’ve got to keep the same level of play and you know, it might feel a little different at practise, and the first couple of games, but I played here I know what it’s like and I also played at the higher level, so I need to bring that here.

“I wouldn’t have got as many minutes playing (in Minnesota) as I will here, and being 19 I still have a big year develop.”

Another source of motivation for Bulmer being back in junior is the prospect of an invite to the Canadian junior team’s selection camp in December for the 2012 World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Calgary.

“(The world juniors) is something I think about, it’s definitely in the back of my head as motivation and I definitely want to be there.”

Bulmer’s return couldn’t come at a more opportune time for the Rockets who are riddled with injuries.

Six players are currently sidelined, however help could come from forward Jessey Astles who is expected to return this weekend after missing nine games with a head injury.

The Rockets and Winterhawks will play a doubleheader at Prospera Place, with face off both Friday and Saturday nights at 7.

whenderson@kelownacapnews.com