If the Kelowna Rockets had a choice, they would have kept all four.
As it is, the Western Hockey League club traded 20-year-old forward Gage Quinney to the Kamloops Blazers Wednesday for a third-round bantam draft pick in 2016.
The Rockets had been carrying four over-age players on their roster since the start of the season, one more than the league limit.
With the deadline approaching on Thursday, GM Bruce Hamiton was forced to move Quinney, who the Rockets acquired last season from Prince Albert in their run to the Memorial Cup.
“This was a tough decision but in the end we stayed with the players that have been here since the start of their careers,” said Hamilton, alluding to the Rockets other 20-year-olds Tyson Baillie, Cole Linaker and Jackson Whistle. “Tyson and Cole have been with us their whole careers and this is Jackson’s third year.”
The Rockets acquired Quinney in the Josh Morrissey trade last season. The Las Vegas native fit right into the roster and became a key player as the Rockets won the WHL Championship.
“This doesn’t take anything away from Gage,” said Hamilton. “He came in and did exactly what we wanted him to do last year. He was an excellent player for us. If we could carry four 20-year-olds, he would be on our team.”
Quinney played in 38 regular season games with the Rockets last season, scoring 10 times and adding 21 assists then added 13 points in 15 WHL Playoff games. In five games at the Memorial Cup, Quinney had four goals and one assist.