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Rockets open training camp; West Kelowna part of Hometown Hockey tour

Training camp for the Kelowna Rockets opened on Monday. Rookie camp continues until Friday at noon, with main camp starting later in the day.
Training camp for the Kelowna Rockets opened on Monday. Rookie camp continues until Friday at noon, with main camp starting later in the day. Marissa Baecker

Sick of smoky skies? Love hockey? Inside cool, air-conditioned Prospea Place, the Kelowna Rockets’ future is on display.

Approximately 100 players between the ages of 14 and 15 are taking part in this year’s Rockets rookie training camp, hoping to attract attention. Camp action started Monday morning and ends Friday at noon, with players skating twice a day, with each game-like session lasting 75 minutes.

“The majority of the kids, probably 90 per cent are 15 (years old),” said Rockets GM and president Bruce Hamilton, adding players are divided into six teams, each with nine forwards and six defencemen.

A select few from rookie camp will participate in main camp later Friday, though it’ll be for experience. Around 21 players from last season’s roster are expected to participate in main camp, which likely means there will be very few spots open for the 2018-19 roster.

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READ MORE: Strathcona County to host stop on Hometown Hockey tour

“I say it every year: Nothing’s guaranteed,” said Hamilton. “We’re coming off a season in which we went out four straight (in the first round to the Tri-City Americans).

The Rockets (43-22-5-2, 93 points) were the class of the B.C. Division last season, finishing well ahead of the second-place Victoria Royals (39-27-4-2, 84 pts). In the playoffs, though, Tri-City (4th place, U.S. Division, 38-25-8-1, 85 pts.) had more depth and drive. Tri-City’s record was misleading, as the U.S. Division was, by far, the best and toughest division in the CHL. Fourteen points separated fourth-place Tri-City from first-place Everett (99 pts).

After defeating Kelowna, Tri-City swept Victoria but lost 4-2 to Everett in the Western Conference final. Swift Current won the league title after defeating Everett 4-2.

“We’ve got a number of prospects who will be ready to play,” continued Hamilton. “It’ll be up to the guys that were on the bottom end of the team last season to fight to stay on the team.”

HOMETOWN HOCKEY TO VISIT WEST KELOWNA

In related news, the Hometown Hockey Tour will be stopping in West Kelowna on January 20, 2019. The tour starts in Kitchener, Ont., Oct. 5-7.

According to tour organizers, each community stop along the 2018-19 tour will be featured on Hometown Hockey, a weekly Sunday broadcast. Festivities will be held in and around the community hockey rink, with TV personality Ron MacLean hosting a pre-game, intermission and post-game show that will be broadcast during a live NHL game being played elsewhere in North America.

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For West Kelowna, the event will take place Jan. 19-20, with the broadcast game being Arizona vs. Toronto, 3:30 p.m. PT.

JUNIOR A: WARRIORS HEAD COACH RESIGNS

The head coach and general manager of the West Kelowna Warriors has resigned, the B.C. Hockey League franchise announced on Tuesday.

At the same time, the Warriors also announced that associate head coach and assistant general manager Geoff Grimwood was named the team’s interim head coach and general manager. The team also said that assistant coach Matt Miller and goaltending coach Chad Carder will remain with the team.

Geoff Grimwood
Geoff Grimwood Global News

Ferster spent the past seven seasons with the Warriors, guiding the team to six straight postseason berths as well as the club’s first Interior Division championship, BCHL Fred Page Cup, Western Canada Cup and RBC Cup National Championship in 2016.

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According to the Warriors, Grimwood, 37, takes the helm after being named associate head coach and assistant general Manager in early July. The Victoria native spent the last three seasons as the bench boss of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers, guiding them to a 79-82-8-5 record over the last three campaigns, including playoff berths in each of his three seasons.