The Kelowna Rockets trimmed their roster to 26 players on Thursday, one day ahead of the start of the team’s six game exhibition schedule.
The Rockets closed out training camp as coaches held a fast-paced practice, the first with all of the players remaining in camp. That shut the doors on a week that began with 14, 15 and 16-year-olds passing through Proserpa Place at the Rockets rookie camp, and ended with Rockets main camp.
At main camp, returning players and other camp invites were split into three teams while a dozen players were brought forward from rookie camp. What emerged was the 26 players that will head into the Rockets six game exhibition schedule which begins with two home games this weekend.
“We have some good young players here from last year and this year there are some good young players that we decided to keep,” said Lorne Frey, Rockets assistant GM and head scout. “We’re going to try to give them as much work as we can through the exhibition schedule.”
Seventeen players return from last year’s Rockets roster, led by drafted players Shane McCoglan (New York Rangers) and Brett Bulmer (Minnesota). Veteran Adam Brown is back in goal. All three players will be at NHL training camps as will Colton Jobke (Minnesota), Zach Franko (Detroit) and Jessey Astles (Pittsburgh). Mitchell Callahan is going to Detroit’s NHL camp and Tyson Barrie is already in Colorado and neither player is expected back.
Other forwards that return from last year are Colton Sissons, Cody Chikie, Spencer Main, Max Adolph, Colton Heffley and Tyrell Goulbourne, who played in last year’s playoffs.
Defencemen back from last year include Kevin Smith, MacKenzie Johnston, Mitchell Chapman and Damon Severson while goalie Jordon Cooke is also back for another season.
Newcomers to the Rockets include a pair of 16-year-olds who made their debuts last year. Sixteen-year-old defencemen Madison Bowey and Jesse Lees both had solid camps. Another newcomer is Slovakian forward Filip Vasko, 17.
Frey says the Rockets philosophy hasn’t changed when it comes to the type of players they are looking for.
“We hope we can have a very exciting and competitive team here, that’s always been our number one goal,” said Frey. “We want to make sure our team competes, we have good skill, and we have players that people want to come and see.”
Among the other players still with the Rockets include 2011 draft pick Ryan Donaldson of Langley. 2010 pick Tyson Baillie of Fort Saskatchewan. Abbotsford’s Austin Ferguson, a 10th rounder in 2010 and 2009 draft pick Tanner Moar are also competing for spots with Texas native Colten Martin and Winfield native Mark MacDougall.
The Rockets host two home exhibition games this weekend taking on the Vancouver Giants on Friday night before the relocated Victoria Royals come to Prospera Place on Saturday.
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