A noticeable absence from Rockets training camp this week will be Tyson Barrie who is in Denver preparing to begin his pro career in the system of the NHL's Colorado Avalanche.

A noticeable absence from Rockets training camp this week will be Tyson Barrie who is in Denver preparing to begin his pro career in the system of the NHL's Colorado Avalanche.

Pro ranks beckon for Rockets duo

Tyson Barrie and Mitchell Callahan aren't expected back with the WHL club this season

Tyson Barrie and Mitchell Callahan each began their major junior hockey careers with vastly different expectations.

Barrie was a skilled and talented first-round bantam draft and was being touted as a cornerstone of the Kelowna Rockets defensive corps for years to come.

Callahan was largely an unknown commodity, a California-born walk-on at training camp in 2008, and a feisty, raw forward who had never played above the midget AA level.

But as 20-year-old players, the two have a lot more in common as both get set to embark on their pro careers and, in turn, put closure to their major junior days.

For the first time since 2006, Barrie won’t be making Rockets training camp a part of his pre-season routine. The Victoria native is already in Denver where he’s making preparations in his attempt to break the lineup of the NHL’s Avalanche.

“I was thinking the other day that this is the first time in five years I won’t be going to Kelowna to start camp and it feels pretty strange,” said Barrie, the Rockets captain last season and WHL’s defenceman of the year in 2009-10. “I had so many great times there and a lot of good memories. It’ll be sad to leave (Kelowna) behind but at the same time I’m excited to get my pro career started. It’s great the Avalanche are bringing me down early to get prepared.”

Barrie’s ultimate goal is to make the NHL’s team’s roster and spend the winter playing in Denver. The second option will be suiting up for the Avalanche’s American Hockey League affiliate in Cleveland, the Lake Erie Monsters.

And as much as he’d like to be in the big time now, Barrie understands the jump from major junior to the NHL doesn’t always happen overnight.

Shea Weber and Josh Gorges are both classic examples of former Rockets defenceman who have gone on to have fine NHL careers after stopovers in the minors.

“It’s going to be tough, just maybe there’ll be a spot there (Avalanche) for me, I’m going in to give it my best shot and everything I can to make it,” said Barrie, who had 272 points in 307 career WHL games, regular season and playoffs combined.

“I also know the transition doesn’t necessarily happen right away, a lot of great players have had to learn in the minors. If I’m not quite ready, then that’s OK I’m prepared to take the necessary steps to get there.”

Rockets head coach Ryan Huska has watched Barrie grow from his very first days in the WHL and is excited to watch the continued development of the skilled, young blue liner.

“He kind of grew up through our organization in a lot of different ways, we kind of used him in key roles even as a young 16-year-old,” said Huska. “I think he’s done a lot of great things for our organization in regards to bringing some of our younger defencemen along, helping them out over the last few years. Now we know for sure he’s moving on to bigger and better things with a pro career I think he’s going to have a very good career because he’s very talented young hockey player and one guy that really wants to win.”

Beginning Tuesday morning, Mitchell Callahan will spend a week at Rockets’ training before heading to Traverse City, Michigan Sept. 8 to join the rookie camp of the Detroit Red Wings.

While Callahan knows his chances of catching on with the Wings this season is likely next to non-existent, the club’s American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids is a more realistic destination for the 5-foot-11 winger.

And there is also a slight chance—perhaps 10 to 15 per cent according to Huska—that the Whittier, Calif. native would return to Kelowna as an overager.

However the 2011-12 season unfolds, Callahan remains surprised at how quickly and unexpectedly success has come his way, and will be content with wherever he lands.

“Everything has kind of been overwhelming, how quickly it’s happened for me and my family, so I’m not putting too much pressure on myself,” said Callahan, a hard-nosed forward who was drafted by Detroit in the sixth round of the 2009 entry draft.

“But it’s every kid’s dream to play pro. If I end in the A (AHL) then, I’m going to be really excited about that.

“If I don’t come back to Kelowna, then I’m going to miss it. It’s the Rockets who gave me a chance and helped me get where I am today.”

If Callahan doesn’t return, his final numbers in Rockets colours will read: 128 points and 440 penalty minutes in 204 games.

But according to Huska, it was much more than numbers that Callahan brought to the organization.

“He’s been a great poster boy for us just in regards to a player just coming in as a walk-on,” said Huska. “He was a guy nobody knew when he first came, he played so hard and got everybody’s attention in that first training camp.

“He’s turned out to be a guy over the last three years here that I think has turned into a fan favourite. He’s pretty high on our list for our coaches because he works and competes every time he’s on the ice. He’s definitely going to be one of the guys we’re going to miss if he does end up playing in Detroit’s system.”

Rocket Shots…Rockets’ main training camp begins today at Prospera Place with more than 40 players on the roster…Ten players were carried over from rookie camp, including No. 1 bantam pick in 2011, Rourke Chartier…The players will be split into three teams and will have four on-ice sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, and three on Thursday…The Rockets’ first pre-season game will be played this Friday, Sept. 2 at Prospera Place against the Vancouver Giants.

whenderson@kelownacapnews.com

 

Kelowna Capital News

Just Posted

(Dave Ogilvie photo)
One injured after being pinned by fallen forklift near Peachland

West Kelowna emergency crews responded to reports of a person stuck under a forklift

(Big White Ski Resort/Contributed)
Big White’s big clean-up: Large turnout for post-melt mountain tidy

More than 165 people showed up to help gather the litter left behind from the winter season

Mounties cover a burgundy truck with a tent at Buckerfields in West Kelowna on Monday, June 14. The RCMP is investigating after a woman’s body was found inside the truck. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating suspicious death after body found in truck

Police responded to a truck parked out front of a Main Street business where the body was found

(Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)
Delays expected on Lakeshore Road this week

Northbound traffic on Lakeshore between Richter and Barrera will be detoured for paving

David Larsen, left, and co-host Tony Peyton. (K96.3/Twitter)
Popular Kelowna radio host dies after battle with cancer

David Larsen was half of the longtime Kelowna morning-show duo David and Tony

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop live horse export

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Penticton Overdose Prevention Society co-founders Desiree Franz, Shane Surowski and Stephanie Lines have created the city’s first unsanctioned public overdose prevention site using an old wine-tour bus. The site began operations in June 2021. (Desiree Franz/Facebook)
Volunteers launch Penticton’s first public supervised injection site

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for overdoses in Penticton on record

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

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

Jane Linden
KCR: Volunteering keeps you active

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

This goose family went for a leisurely stroll down Vernon’s Main Street Saturday, April 25. (Dave Deshane photo)
Controversial Vernon goose cull won’t fly this year

Necessary permit procedures held up at a federal level

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Most Read