KELOWNA – They came from across the province and across western Canada; 100 WHL hopefuls, hoping to catch the eye of Kelowna Rockets coaching staff. Rookie camp is underway at Prospera Place. Most of the Rockets 2014 Bantam draft picks are here, along with dozens of other camp-goers.
“For us as coaches, we rarely get to see these kids play, even our drafted guys,” says Rockets head coach, Dan Lambert. “It’s nice to familiarize yourself with them and see what they’re all about.”
Likely a dozen or less of the prospects will get the invite to main camp which starts next week, but Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton says every player is going in with an equal shot.
“Everyone is on the same page,” says Hamilton. “Shea Weber, Duncan Keith and Josh Gorges were all walk-on players. Don’t think it can’t happen.”
There’s been a lot of talk about Rockets first round draft pick, local Okanagan Hockey Academy blueliner, Jonathan Smart.
“He’s a very intelligent player and very skilled,” says Rockets scout, Lorne Frey, who with a big grin, continues, “we’re very pleased he’s grown about three inches over the past three months.”
The prospects will have three and a half days to lay it all on the line and grab the attention of coaching staff, with rookie camp wrapping up Sunday.