Siebert looks to leave injury behind

Forward Jason Siebert was the Rockets' first pick in the 2009 WHL bantam draft

Forward Jason Siebert was the Rockets' first pick in the 2009 WHL bantam draft

For the better part of a year, Jason Siebert didn’t play a single hockey game.

The 16-year-old forward from Abbotsford is in the process of trying to make up for lost time with the Kelowna Rockets.

The WHL club’s first-round pick in the 2009 bantam draft, Siebert was felled by a shoulder injury last year while playing in the Challenge Cup, a spring midget tournament on the Lower Mainland.

Following major reconstructive surgery in July of 2009, it was another seven months before Siebert would see game action with the B.C. Major Midget League’s Fraser Valley Bruins.

But after 18 games with the Bruins, followed by a strict summer workout regimen, and now three weeks into the new season with the Rockets, Siebert feels he’s close to returning to his old self.

“The big thing I had to get used to was the contact, I was probably a lot more aware of that part of the game and maybe a little bit scared, too,” said Siebert. “But every game I played, the better it got. I feel like I’m past the fear part of it completely and I’m back to the way I was before the injury.”

For many young players, losing almost an entire season can prove to be hugely detrimental to their development. But with plenty of raw, untapped talent on his side, the Rockets expect the 6-foot-1 1/2 190 pound forward will, given time, become a solid major junior player.

“He’s a big kid with excellent, raw skill,” said Rockets director of player personnel Lorne Frey. “He’s a good skater for his size, he’s good on the puck and has an excellent shot. The biggest thing he has to work on is being more consistent, like most young guys. He’s going to take some time to learn that he has to play to the best of his ability every night.”

At 16, the Rockets could opt to send Siebert back for another season of midget where he would see considerably more ice time.

But the Rockets believe the proper development of their young prospect hinges on his exposure to a WHL environment.

“He hasn’t had a lot of coaching and we think the best and fastest way for him to develop is with us,” said Frey. “In his case, we think he’s going to benefit a lot more from being around our coaches and he needs to be exposed to our structure. We think it’s paramount for his development to be here.”

And while Siebert has been given the green light to spend the 2010-11 campaign in a Rocket uniform, he promises to take nothing for granted.

“I came into this camp knowing I was a first-round pick and things would be expected of me,” said Siebert. “Since I was injured, I’ve known that I needed to get back to that prime level, and make sure I was ready. I have to show them I really am I first-round pick and that I deserve to be here. It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time and I have to make the most of it.”

Rocket Shots…The Rockets will close out their exhibition schedule this weekend with a home-and-home set against the Chilliwack Bruins—Friday in Chilliwack, and Saturday, 7 p.m. at Prospera Place…Max Adolph scored twice, including an empty netter as Kelowna defeated Kamloops 4-2 Saturday at Prospera. The Rockers have a 3-1 record in the preseason.

Kelowna Capital News

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