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

City of West Kelowna releases survey for cannabis store restrictions

October 17 non-medical cannabis sales will be permitted

City of Kelowna hires new consultant

Bill McKinnon fills the void left by the passing of Rob Mayne

Strong smell of ammonia downtown Kelowna

Fire crews attended the Memorial Arena for a strong smell of ammonia

Hedge goes up in smoke in Lake Country

A Lake Country resident burning weeds had flames spread to a nearby hedge

New summer market hits Kelowna

Craft Culture and Manteo Resort will host a summer market this weekend

VIDEO: Visual recap of Vancouver Island MusicFest

Walk Off The Earth, Passenger, Arlo Guthrie among highlights

Emerica tears up Penticton Youth Park

Pro skateboarders make summer afternoon even hotter

‘Virtual drugstore’ dealer sentenced in the South Okanagan

A Penticton woman was using the casino as a hub to sell drugs and launder money

Trudeau’s youth council divided over Trans Mountain pipeline purchase

A letter signed by 16 past and present members was made public today, asking the federal government to reverse course

UPDATE: Wildfire near Lake Country grows to seven hectares

The BC Wildfire Service is responding to a blaze at Dee Lake

Hulk Hogan reinstated into wrestling Hall of Fame

Hogan had used racial slurs caught on video when talking about his daughter sleeping with a black man

UPDATE: BC crews respond to two new wildfires

Blazes near Allison and Osoyoos Lakes

Motorcycle driver dies in a head-on collision near Oliver

RCMP said the three vehicle collision, near Road 18, happened around 2:45 p.m. on July 14

‘Lava bomb’ through roof of tour boat injures 22 in Hawaii

“An explosion occurred near the shoreline hurling hot lava rocks towards the boat and injuring several passengers”

Most Read