Friday night’s home game against the Portland Winterhawks will mark a career first for Rodney Southam.
It will be the 19-year-old forward’s initial tour of duty as captain of the Western Hockey League’s Kelowna Rockets.
On Monday, the Rockets officially named Southam the 22nd captain in franchise history.
Already 47 games into the season, the Rockets took an unconventionally long time to name their new inspirational leader.
But with a run on injuries and several players away at world junior camps, the defending champs weren’t about to make a hasty decision.
In Bruce Hamilton’s estimation, there’s no doubt the Rockets have chosen the right man for the job.
“Rodney is the heart and soul of our team,” said the Rockets’ president and GM. “I’m happy that as an organization we’ve made a decision on the captaincy and I think Rodney will do a wonderful job. I believe this team needs someone in charge from a player’s perspective and Rodney is well-respected by his teammates.
“It’s taken a long time to figure this group out with players away and with injuries,” added Hamilton. “We’re confident Rodney will be back as an over-age player as well and that made it even more appealing to us.”
Rockets head coach Brad Ralph expects Southam to be an excellent fit in his new role.
“He possesses all the qualities of a captain,” said Ralph. “He has a positive attitude and a team first mindset. He’s a hard worker and he’s courageous.”
Southam is in his second season with the Rockets after being acquired from the Tri-City Americans in a trade early in 2014-15.
He played 53 regular season games last season, 19 in the WHL playoffs and five more at the Memorial Cup. Overall he’s played 151 career WHL games.
Southam has played in 35 games this year, scoring six goals and posting 13 points. He just returned to the lineup last Friday and scored a goal against Tri-City after missing 12 games with an injury.
Southam will be joined in the leadership core by Joe Gatenby and Tyson Baillie, who will serve as assistant captains for home games, while Rourke Chartier and Cole Linaker will be the assistants for road games.
Southam and the Rockets will host Portland Friday and the Victoria Royals on Saturday.
Previous Rockets Captains:
2013-15 Madison Bowey (two seasons)
2011-13 Colton Sissons (two seasons)
2010-11 Tyson Barrie
2009-10 Lucas Bloodoff
2008-09 Colin Long
2007-08 James McEwan
2006-07 Chris Ray
2005-06 Tyler Spurgeon
2004-05 Brett Palin
2003-04 Josh Gorges
2001-03 Ryan Cuthbert (two seasons)
2000-01 Gavin McLeod
1999-00 Curtis Rich
1998-99 Ryan Wade
1997-98 Jason Deleurme
1996-97 Tyler Prosofosky
1995-96 Burt Henderson
1994-95 Dallas Thompson (Tacoma)
1993-94 Allen Egeland (Tacoma)
1991-93 Dave McMillen (Tacoma, two seasons)