Second-year forward Tyson Baillie had 10 goals in his first 27 games with the Kelowna Rockets this season

Sitting out ignites Rockets’ Baillie

Kelowna forward misses games early, ramps up game to get back in the WHL team's lineup

Like most hockey players with a competitive streak, Tyson Baillie wasn’t content with being a healthy scratch.

After having his name deleted from the starting lineup four times earlier this season, the Kelowna Rockets’ forward decided it was time to make some changes.

“No one likes sitting out,” said Baillie, 17, in his second season with the Rockets. “It’s painful to watch when the team is doing well, and you can’t be part of it.

“It drives you to be better and I knew I had to work a lot harder, do extra things at practise, and do a better job of taking care of myself. It’s a lot nicer playing than sitting.”

Since last being scratched on Nov. 24, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. native has been one of the Rockets’ most productive forwards.

Prior to Wednesday night’s game in Lethbridge, Baillie had four goals and six assists in his last seven games, including back-to-back two-goal efforts against Prince George and the Kootenay Ice.

With fewer injuries and considerably more depth on the Rockets’ roster this season, keeping a spot in the starting lineup isn’t a given like it often was a year ago.

Kelowna head coach Ryan Huska said it didn’t take long for Baillie to get the message.

“One thing about Tyson is that he loves to play the game, so that was a tough stretch for him to go through earlier this season,” said Huska. “He had to face up to that and find a way to get back in the lineup. He’s learned how to work harder, he’s moving his feet now, and he’s becoming a better two-way player. His shifts are shorter and he’s understanding better what it takes be more consistent. He’s been playing very well for us.”

As a 16-year-old WHL rookie last season Baillie scored 10 goals in 68 games. He’s already scored 10 times this season and has 19 points in just 27 games.

Like many of his teammates, Baillie is not only feeling better about his own game these days, but also the success the Rockets are enjoying as a team.

“It’s very positive, everyone gets along well, and we’re playing the game at a very high tempo,” said Baillie. “No one wants to sit, so the competition for ice time is good.

It’s a lot more fun when you’re winning, too.”

The Rockets’ Central Division road trip and pre-Christmas schedule wraps up with three games this weekend. Kelowna is in Medicine Hat on Friday, Red Deer on Saturday and Calgary on Sunday.

The Rockets next home action is Thursday, Dec. 27 against the Kamloops Blazers.

 

Just Posted

Lightning strikes West Kelowna condo

Fire crews were called to a building on Carrington Road Tuesday night

UPDATE: Smoke rising from Okanagan Mountain Park hills

Lightning may have sparked a fire in the hills across from Peachland

Lightning strikes across B.C. Interior

Residents are being asked to go inside until last rumble of thunder

Update: Lightning sparks blaze above Summerland

Firefighters are battling the small fire from the area that occurred Tuesday shortly after 7 p.m.

UPDATE: Crews battle wildfire near Big White Road

Joe Rich Fire Department responding alongside Big White Fire Department and provincial crews.

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Lightning sparks wildfires in Vernon

Tuesday night storm causes wildfire in BX and residential fire in East Hill

Crash closes Highway 5A in both directions

A collision has shut down Highway 5A about 22 kilometres south of the junction with Highway 97C

Hub for mental health and addictions treatment opens at B.C. hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital HUB is an acute medical unit that includes 10 patient beds

Pike Mountain fire continues to grow – quadruples in 24 hours

Fire threatens area consumed in 2017 by a 3,500 hectare blaze

Vernon Knights hire Van Horlick

New head coach of Junior B franchise in Armstrong

St. Albert knocks down Canadians

Finals of Valley of the Champions

Restaurant Brands International to review policy over poaching employees

One of Canada’s largest fast-food company to review ‘no-poach’ franchise agreements

Calgary family’s vacation ends in tragedy on Texas highway

Three people died and four others were injured in the crash

Most Read