For a six-game stretch, an illness prevented Kole Lind from playing for the Kelowna Rockets.
Now that he’s been cleared to return, the 19-year-old forward hopes an invitation to Canada’s national junior team selection camp will follow.
Lind, who has been battling mononucleosis, could be back in the Rockets’ lineup as early as Saturday night against the Kootenay Ice.
“It feels good to be out of the house and back at the rink again,” said Lind who skated for the first time since mid-November at Rockets practise Thursday morning. “Two and a half weeks without doing anything was tough. I felt a little less rusty than I thought, so that’s good. I still have a ways to go, but I’m looking forward to getting back in the lineup as soon as I can.”
Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton said at the very least, the Shaunavon, SK native should be ready to go for the first two games of the club’s eastern road trip Dec. 8 and 9 in Regina and Brandon.
“It’s been a long challenging test for him,” Hamilton said of Lind and his bout with mononucleosis. “Fortunately for him and for us, he’s at the very end of it.”
Now that he’s returning to health, next up on Lind’s wish-list is an invitation to Hockey Canada’s final selection camp later this month.
“Obviously it’s been a goal of mine since the start of the season, I’ve never had a chance to wear the Maple Leaf,” said Lind, who has 32 points in 20 games for Kelowna this season. “To get back and be healthy, hopefully that will lead to the opportunity for me. It’s out of my control, but I think I put my best foot forward. If not, I’m going to focus on the Rockets and helping us win.”
Team Canada will announce its 30-player camp list early next week, one that two other Rockets, Dillon Dube and Cal Foote, hope to be included on.
The national junior team selection camp is set for Dec. 12 to 15 in St. Catharines, ON. The 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship goes Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Buffalo, NY.
Rockets in Spokane…
The Rockets will pay their second visit of the season to Spokane Friday to take on Dan Lambert’s Chiefs. The first meeting between the clubs on Nov. 22 produced a 6-2 Chiefs’ victory and Kelowna’s most recent defeat.
“The last game in there we played good for half the game,” said Rockets’ head coach Jason Smith. “They wore us down and they played a physical, hard game. Our compete level wasn’t where it needed to be. It’ll be good for us to go back there and raise our level of play.”
Kelowna (15-8-2-1) continued its recent run of success on home ice Wednesday with a 5-3 win over the Prince George Cougars. Over-age forward Carsen Twarynski scored a hat trick as the Rockets pushed their Prospera Place winning streak to nine games.
“The guys obviously really enjoy playing here,” Smith said of his team’s play at Prospera Place. “We’ve started games well at home which makes it a lot easier, I think if we can continue to come out of the gates and do things the right way off the start of the game, then it really gives you a chance.”
The Rockets will play their last home game prior to Christmas on Saturday night against the Kootenay Ice. Face off on Teddy Bear Toss night at Prospera Place is 7:05 p.m.
Kelowna opens a six-game tour of the Prairies Friday, Dec. 8 in Regina.
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