Rourke Chartier (left) and Nick Merkley will play for Team WHL against Russia on Nov. 9 in Kelowna.

Rockets’ duo on Team WHL

Rourke Chartier and Nick Merkley on roster for CHL Canada Russia Series Nov. 9 and 10

Not surprisingly, Rourke Chartier was disappointed to be among the final cuts from last year’s Canadian national junior men’s hockey team.

With an added year of experience and plenty of motivation on his side, the Kelowna Rockets’ centre is about to get a second chance.

Chartier and Rockets’ teammate Nick Merkley were both been named this week to Team WHL’s roster for the 2015 CHL Canada-Russia series.

The games—Monday, Nov. 9 in Kelowna, and Tuesday, Nov. 10  in Kamloops—serve as part of Hockey Canada’s evaluation process for this year’s national junior squad.

Chartier, who was released from last December’s selection camp following the final practise, is anxious to prove that this time, he belongs.

“Watching them win was nice, but to know you were that close to being part of it was hard,” Chartier said of being left off what became the gold-medal winning Canadian team. “But at the same time, it’s motivation for me get back there and make it this time. I’m looking forward to it.”

Merkley, 18, who has previous international experience with Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, is also hoping to earn an invitation to the junior team’s final selection camp in December.

Although a somewhat brief audition, the Calgary native said the two-game series against Russia is an important step in the process.

“It’s a big honour to be named to the (WHL) team, you look up and down the rosters of both teams and there are some really good players,” Merkley said. “I was hoping to make it (on Team WHL) last year but didn’t, so it’s nice to get the chance.

“It’s nice to have one of the games in Kelowna, too. It should be fun.”

Chartier, 19, who has been out since Oct. 6 with an upper body injury, remains sidelined on a day-to-day basis.

Still, with the CHL series three weeks away, the Saskatoon native expects to be ready to go.

“I’ll be really surprised if I’m not 100 per cent by then,” Chartier added. “You never want to miss time, but I’m staying positive and hope to be at my best for (the Russians).”

Hockey Canada will hold its final selection camp in early December, with 22 players making the final grade.

The IIHF World Junior Championship will be played Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Helsinki, Finland.

For ticket information on the Nov. 9 game in Kelowna, visit canadarussia.chl.ca

Rocket Shots…The Rockets will open a four-game home stand Friday night against the Prince George Cougars. The Calgary Hitmen will visit Prospera Place on Saturday night…The Rockets are coming off a weekend split with the Cougars, losing 3-0 on Friday and winning 6-2 on Saturday…Rockets centre Tyson Baillie had five points in Saturday’s win and is second in WHL scoring with nine goals and 19 points.

 

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