With a throng of his relatives in the stands, Eli Zummack had plenty of moral support on Wednesday night at Prospera Place.
The Kelowna product played a WHL game in his hometown for the first time, as his Spokane Chiefs took on the Kelowna Rockets.
A 16-year-old rookie with Spokane, Zummack didn’t look a bit out of place, picking up an assist on the game’s second goal and helping his teammates knock off the hometown Rockets in overtime.
“Obviously it was a big game, playing in my hometown, having lots of family here to watch,” said Zummack, whose parents, aunts and uncles, cousins came to watch him play. “Just like every game, I’m pumped right from the get-go and this one was a big one.
“I had some nerves, but it wasn’t bad, once I got out there and got the first shift out of the way, it was good.”
A second-round bantam draft pick of the Red Deer Rebels in 2015, the Chiefs acquired the 5-foot-9, 165-pound Zummack in a trade early in 2016.
In a season-plus with the B.C. Major Midget League’s Okanagan Rockets, Zummack was an offensive juggernaut, racking up 72 points in 47 games.
After just 10 games of midget hockey this season, the Chiefs saw no point in waiting any longer to tap into Zummack’s potential.
“It’s awesome, a lifetime experience and I’m enjoying it so much,” said Zummack, who has two goals and six points in his first 19 WHL games. “I’m grateful for the opportunity. It’s an unreal league, it’s tough day in and day out, but it’s awesome.”
“I’m enjoying my time, trying to make the most of it and see where it takes me.”