Younger Foote making strides with Rockets

Rookie forward draws praise from Kelowna head coach after scoring his first WHL goal this week against Everett

Rockets' rookie Nolan Foote scored this first WHL goal Wednesday night at Prospera Place.

Much like his older brother, Cal, the Kelowna Rockets will be intently watching Nolan Foote’s development over the next couple of Western Hockey League seasons.

The Rockets got a premonition of what’s to come from the 15-year-old forward on Wednesday night when the Engelwood, CO native notched his first WHL goal against the Everett Silvertips.

After taking a pass from his elder sibling, Foote skated in alone and snapped a shot from the left face-off circle past ‘Tips netminder Mario Petit.

Based on the young forward’s skill and work ethic, head coach Jason Smith expects it to be the first of many WHL goals for Foote.

“It’s great, he’s stepped in as a young kid and really pushed and moved himself up the lineup,” said Smith. “He competes and works hard every day, obviously he’s a player that can shoot the puck and he’s going to score a lot of goals in this league.”

Following the game, during an interview with the media, the unsuspecting Foote was subjected to a Rockets’ ritual reserved for players who score their first WHL goal—a face full of shaving cream from the hands of a teammate.

Once he towelled off and with his eyes still stinging, the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Foote

talked about the most memorable moment of his brief WHL career to date.

“The first goal, it was one to remember for sure,” said Foote. “That was just an unbelievable moment and it was good to have the assist from (Cal).”

Hockey Canada has also taken note of Foote’s potential. He’ll travel to Sault Ste. Marie later this month to play for one of Canada’s teams at the World Under-17 Challenge.

Meanwhile, Foote’s goal Wednesday was a key moment on the way to a much-needed win for the Rockets, who had scored just three times in the course of a three-game losing streak.

Lucas Johansen’s first of the season at 1:04 of the extra period boosted Kelowna to a 4-3 win over Everett.

For Smith and the Rockets, the win may not have been of the text book variety, but it was a step in the right direction.

“Any time things don’t go well for your team, you know there’s stress and tension but we’ve done a pretty good job of trying to keep the guys loose,” said Smith. “We have a good group of guys in the room that have talked about pushing through and paying attention to the detail.

“It was a good start, we still need to work on playing 60 minutes, but we’ll take the win and look forward to the next one.”

Smith and the Rockets (4-7-0) will close out a four-game homestand tonight against the Tri-City Americans. Face off at Prospera Place is 7 p.m.

Rockets trio to Canada-Russia series…

Rockets forwards Nick Merkley and Dillon Dube, and defenceman Cal Foote have been named to Team WHL for the upcoming CIBC Canada-Russia series.

The games will be played Monday, Nov. 7 in Prince George and Tuesday, Nov. 8 in Edmonton.

Merkley, an Arizona Coyotes first-round draft pick is in his fourth season with the Rockets. Dube was drafted in the second round of the NHL draft by the Calgary Flames. Foote is a projected top 10 NHL draft pick in this summer’s upcoming draft.