Along with centre Rourke Chartier

Rockets getting back to full strength

Rourke Chartier, Tomas Soustal and Calvin Thurkauf are set to return to the WHL team this week from the world junior championship

It’s been almost a month since the Kelowna Rockets have played with something that resembles a full roster.

With three key forwards potentially returning to the lineup this weekend, the defending Western Hockey League champs will—more or less—be back to normal.

Rourke Chartier (Canada), Tomas Soustal (Czech Republic) and Calvin Thurkauf (Switzerland) are all returning to Kelowna this week after a trip to the World Junior Hockey Championship in Finland, as the Rockets host the Everett Silvertips and the Tri-City Americans this weekend.

“It’s going to be a big help to us, it’ll move everybody down a notch or two on the depth chart and give us four pretty good lines,” said Hamilton. “That’s what I think is going to help us in the long run is our depth. We’re just about back to a full lineup, so I’m excited to see what we can do in the second half here.”

While Hamilton would have liked to have seen the three players come home with something more—in particular Chartier and Team Canada—the early exit from the world junior tournament certainly won’t hurt the Rockets’ cause.

“When teams get to the medal games, that takes more out of the players, they tend to be worn out when they get back and usually need to be shut down for a while,” Hamilton said. “Charter was off for two months (with injury) so I’m not worried about him.

“I’m hoping all three guys will be fairly well-rested and they’ll be able to get back at it this weekend. It’s going to take some time for them to adjust”

With as many as six forwards sidelined at times during the month long-stretch, the Rockets managed to grind out a respectable 6-4-1-0 record to remain in charge of the Western Hockey League standings.

Like head coach Brad Ralph, Hamilton was pleased with the way the Rockets (28-10-2-0) fought through the adversity.

“The last two losses of the (Prairie trip) the guys were dead, just out of gas,” Hamilton said. “And with Everett, well they just caught us at the perfect time, we were down a bunch of players, playing five games in seven, so that’s going to happen.

“It’ll take us a little while to get the lineup settled and back to where we were, but that will come.”

The Rockets will host the Everett Silvertips Friday, the third meeting of between the teams in the last 10 days.

On Saturday, the Tri-City Americans will make their first visit of the season to Prospera Place.

Trade deadline Sunday…

With the WHL’s trade deadline looming this weekend, Hamilton said not to expect a repeat of last year’s fireworks from the Rockets.

He assured there will be nothing remotely close to the blockbuster deals that brought Leon Draisaitl and Josh Morrissey to Kelowna for the Rockets’ WHL championship run.

“It won’t be as entertaining as last year, that’s for sure,” Hamilton said. “We’re not really out there soliciting hard for anything, we’re just keeping our ears open to see what’s available.”

Ideally, Hamilton would like to acquire an older defenceman with offensive ability for the stretch run, but said the Rockets are “in line with about 15 other teams” who want the same commodity.

Hamilton added that if the Rockets don’t make a trade, he can live with the personnel already in place.

Head coach Brad Ralph agrees.

“If everyone is health and playing, we have a heck of a hockey team,” Ralph said. “We’ve still got some work ahead of us, but I think we do have the players to make it work. Whatever route Bruce decides to take with trades, I’m happy with that.”


Just Posted

Need to catch up on news? You’re covered

Every Saturday the Capital News will highlight stories from the week

Big White board school among best

Director of snow sports, Josh Foster, is one of the top instructors in Canada

Seniors prefer funeral to lifestyle planning

Survey finds 73% of seniors have a will, only 13% have long-term care plan

Okanagan College business students soar

Medal winners at Western Canadian Business Competition

UBCO civil engineer touts cohousing option

Gord Lovegrove says cohousing is sustainable social and economic lifestyle

VIDEO: B.C. Mounties reunite veteran with lost military medals

RCMP say Zora Singh Tatla, who served in the army in India for 28 years, is the righful owner

Canucks snap scoreless streak but fall short in 5-3 loss to Sharks

Swiss forward Timo Meier nets two, including the game-winner, to lead San Jose

4 facts to ring in St. Patrick’s Day

What do you really know about the Irish celebration?

Experts urging caution as rabbits die by the hundreds in B.C. city

Province of B.C. confirms more positive tests for rabbit haemorrhagic disease

Federal government seeks public feedback on pedestrian safety

What safety measures do you think need to improved for pedestrians and cyclists?

Search continues for 10-year-old Montreal boy missing since Monday

Montreal police said they are exploring every possibility in search for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Airline passenger-rights bill claws back protections for travellers: Advocate

Bill C-49 would double tarmac delays, scrap compensation for flights affected by mechanical failures

Canadian research vessel to explore 19th Century shipwrecks

Commissioned this week in Victoria, the RV David Thompson is Parks Canada’s newest vessel

Most Read