Kelowna Rockets' defencemen Riley Stadel (left) and Joe Gatenby model the team's special retro 25th anniversary jerseys.

Kelowna Rockets' defencemen Riley Stadel (left) and Joe Gatenby model the team's special retro 25th anniversary jerseys.

Rockets set for launch into 25th season

Kelowna unveils retro jerseys to mark anniversary campaign in the WHL

When the puck drops on the major junior hockey season on Friday, Sept. 25 at Prospera Place, it will mark a milestone for the Kelowna Rockets.

The franchise, which was born in 1991 in Tacoma, Wash., will celebrate its 25th anniversary campaign in the Western Hockey League.

The Rockets, who moved to Kelowna for the 1995-96 season, have enjoyed a level of success that few other junior hockey organizations can match.

The Rockets have won four Western Hockey League titles and played in five Memorial Cups, including winning the CHL championship in 2004.

In addition, the club has helped produce dozens of high profile NHL players over the years, including the likes of Shea Weber, Duncan Keith, Josh Gorges and Jamie Benn.

Club president and GM Bruce Hamilton is proud of the Rockets’ past and is excited about what the future holds.

“If anything we’re proud we’ve been able to survive and I think we’ve set a standard a lot of people try to emulate,” said Hamilton. “To me, it’s important we don’t lose focus on what we do real well, and continue to be successful so this franchise continues to flourish.”

To mark the occasion, the Rockets Monday unveiled two of their new jerseys for the 2015-16 season, a retro look dating back to the team’s first days in Tacoma.

The jerseys feature the original red, white, teal and black combinations as well as the team 25th anniversary logo and WHL logo.

“We’re one of the few teams that’s stayed with original colours and I’m a traditional person when it comes to our team uniform,” said Hamilton. “When you look at the murals on the walls and see those old jerseys, they’re still pretty special to me.

“I think they look good, the white is nice and clean, the black makes us look big. These are a retro jersey we’ll wear for this season.”

Defencemen Joe Gatenby and Riley Stadel modelled the new uniforms at a media conference on Monday and both like what they see.

“I like it a lot, I like the history of it, we’re in a very historical organization,” said Gatenby. “I’m really excited to get this year rolling, it’s a really big one with the anniversary.”

Stadel heartily agrees.

“I really like them, I’ve always been a huge fan of the colours we wear here,” Stadel said. “Every player that has played here is proud to throw on this jersey, it’s cool that guys 25 years ago were wearing this same logo, I’m glad we’re going back to it and I’m pour to be throwing on this jersey this year.”

The Rockets will also retain their familiar red jersey the team has been wearing for the last several seasons.

As for the team’s ultimate ambitions and how best to celebrate its 25th anniversary under new head coach Brad Ralph, it’s no surprise what Bruce Hamilton would like to see.

“A Memorial Cup would be something special, very few teams have had the opportunity we’ve had, we’ve been there five times,” said Hamilton. “It’d be great to win it again, but as you witnessed firsthand it is a battle to get there and once you’re there you just gotta hope all your horses are running in the same race.”

Meanwhile, the club has opened rookie camp this week at Prospera Place with just over 100 players in attendance.

Main training camp begins Friday with registration, followed by on-ice sessions Saturday.

 

Kelowna Capital News