Brodan Salmond may not have thought he would end up in a Kelowna Rockets jersey this season, but the 17-year-old Calgary native says he’s going to make the most of his opportunity, after joining the Rockets at the start of February.
Salmond, a 2013 WHL Bantam Draft pick of the Rockets, earned his first WHL win in his debut start with the Rockets, making 30 saves in a 6-4 win in Prince George on Saturday night.
“I thought it went pretty well,” he said. “It was pretty special. You’ll always remember your first win. It was nice to get it out of the way. The team played really well in front of me. They blocked a lot of shots and limited their chances.”
Salmond arrived in Kelowna Feb. 1 due to an injury that has sidelined Rockets starter Jackson Whistle indefinitely. He had been playing junior A in Camrose but joined the Rockets with the blessing of his junior A team and will stay with the Rockets for the remainder of the season.
He said it was a dream come true to play in the WHL.
“It was pretty cool. It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the Western League,” he said. “I wasn’t really expecting it this year. I was focussed on my team but I got the call and I was really excited to come here and play for a great team.”
After Whistle went down with an injury, backup Michael Herringer made 18 straight starts, at one point playing four games in five nights. But Rockets assistant coach Travis Crickard says it was a heavy load for Herringer and the team is happy that Salmond is here to take some of the workload.
“Michael is still going to play a lot of games for us but having someone to come in a give him break is important,” said Crickard. “For Brodan to get his first win is a big confidence boost. A big thing with me is coach-ability. If I see a goalie that is working hard and and doing what we ask him to do I feel more comfortable with him going in the net. And that’s what Brodan has done.”
Getting his first start with about a month left in the WHL season isn’t the easiest situation for a rookie goalie to come into, but Crickard said the young netminder has handled it well, since arriving in Kelowna.
“In comparison to every other first year goal in the league, they’ve had five months to learn the league and learn how to play so it’s a very tough situation,” he said. “But he likes to battle and when you have a goalie that will do whatever it takes to stop the puck, those guys are easy to coach.”
For Salmond, who has attended Rockets training camps in the past couple of years and had been targeting next year’s training camp as potentially trying to make the team, arriving a bit early may come with its challenges but its allowing him to get his feet wet at the WHL level.
“It’s good for me to get used to the league so I know what to expect and have some experience,” he said. “Every day in practice I’m getting more used to the shots. I think we have a really good group of guys and it’s really going to help me being with the team this year.”
The Rockets, who defeated the Red Deer Rebels 3-1 on Tuesday night, will play a home and home series with Vancouver this weekend, hosting the Giants on Friday at Prospera Place and playing in Vancouver on Saturday…Rockets players will be at BCAA at the corner of Harvey and Burtch on Thursday between 5 and 6 p.m. to meet its fans, sign autographs and have pictures taken.