‘Work ethic’ a priority for new Rockets coach

Jason Smith looks for WHL club to compete and 'play the whole rink'

Former NHL captain Jason Smith will make his WHL coaching debut with the Kelowna Rockets on Sept. 23 in Kamloops.

In the three weeks since officially taking the helm in Kelowna, Jason Smith’s expectations of his team remain unchanged.

Work ethic and solid fundamentals will be at the forefront of the game plan when the Rockets take to ice for start of the 2016-17 Western Hockey League season.

“We want to play a strong team game, with attention to detail and a strong work ethic,” said Smith, the Rockets’ new head coach. “The standard is we’re going to compete, play hard every night and play the whole rink.

“Our players are not just going to play in the offensive zone, looking after the defensive side is going to be a priority.”

With seven players away at NHL rookie camps, Smith will get one last preseason look at his new team on Friday night against the Vancouver Giants. Face off at Prospera Place is 7 p.m.

And while all the personnel is new to Smith, he said a strong corps of 17 returning players and an experienced coaching staff have helped with the transition.

“With most of the guys having been here, I think I have a pretty good feel for this group and the style we want to continue to play,” he said. “I think it should be an exciting team for the fans to watch.

“As a team, you’re going to make adjustments and change some things throughout the season, but the basics are all there.

“We’re going to try and play fast and create offensively, while also working to improve defensively.”

The Rockets will open the regular campaign with a home-and-home set against the Kamloops Blazers.

The clubs will play Friday, Sept. 23 at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, then again the following night at Prospera Place. Face off is 7 p.m.

Rocket Shots…

Seven Rockets are attending NHL rookie camps this weekend: Devante Stephens (Buffalo), Lucas Johansen (Washington), Dillon Dube (Calgary), Calvin Thurkauf (Columbus), Brayden Chizen (Minnesota) and Gordie Ballhorn (Dallas). Most, if not all, are expected back with the club next week.

 

Just Posted

Okanagan Wildfires: An afternoon update on wildfires and evacuations

A Sunday afternoon look at the major wildfires impacting the Okanagan and Similkameen.

VIDEO: Sailing under the sun at the BC Games

Maple Bay in the Cowichan Valley was host to dozens of athletes sailing on small prams to planing dinghys

BC Wildfire holding steady on Okanagan Complex

Evening update on Okanagan fire situation

Wild fires blaze in the Okanagan, in your words

We have compiled a community photo album of your wildfire photos

Power couple speed into top spot at L’Alpe de Grand Blanc at Big White

The professional riders have been training all year

All-Indigenous teams break new ground, making BC Games history

This is the first time there have been dedicated Indigenous teams at the BC Summer Games

Why do they do it? Coaches guide kids to wins, personal bests at the BC Games

Behind the 2,300 B.C. athletes are the 450 coaches who dedicate time to help train, compete

Reel Reviews: Floundering inferno

We quote Charlie Brown: “Good grief!”

UPDATE: Five taken to hospital following one of two Coquihalla accidents

One airlifted in critical condition, four taken via ambulance in stable condition

Ottawa fails to find alternative buyer for Trans Mountain pipeline by deadline

The feds had announced it was purchasing the $4.5 billion pipeline earlier this spring

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

Lower Mainland teams battle for baseball gold at BC Games

Vancouver Coastal squeaked out a 3-2 win against Fraser Valley

The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw people signed an agreement-in-principle with the B.C. government

The signing ceremony, at the Eliza Archie Memorial School, was 25 years in the making

Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria

There are fears the volunteers would become a target for government troops

Most Read