The Kelowna Rockets debuted their newest face and faceoff specialist against the Edmonton Oil Kings on Tuesday night.
“I just wanted to treat it like a regular game,” new Rocket acquisition Jadon Joseph told Global News.
In being traded to Kelowna, the veteran forward traded in his traditional No. 23 for No. 18.
At Prospera Place on Tuesday night, he skated into the faceoff circle 20 times.
“First thing is the faceoff and that starts the battle of the game,” Joseph said.
That’s exactly why the Rockets traded for him — Kelowna needed big gun who is quick on the draw.
“He’s an exceptional faceoff man and that was a big part of it,” said Rockets general manager Bruce Hamilton.
Joseph made a positive impression in his debut, going 16-for-20 in the faceoff circle.
“I take a lot of pride in my faceoffs,” said Joseph, adding “I honestly would have liked to done a bit better.”
Regan Bartel, the longtime voice of the Kelowna Rockets, was impressed with Joseph.
“I thought it was a great trade. The Rockets were looking for a second-line center and he’s got a lot of playoff games under his belt,” Bartel said.
The 20-year-old veteran and former Vancouver Giant was mentoring in Moose Jaw, helping usher in some 17-year-olds into the WHL when he was traded for Kyle Crosbie, over-ager Kobe Mohr, the rights to goaltender James Porter and a third-round 2022 bantam draft pick.
“We paid certainly to get him, and I think he’s going to bring some things we need,” Hamilton said.
The trade leaves the Rockets carrying four over-age players, including Kyle Topping, who is on the injured reserve list.
That begs the question of who will be the odd man out if Topping returns?
“We will see how he does,” said Hamilton, “and then we will have to make a decision.”
For now, though, expect to see Joseph playing some big minutes at the end of games and on the power play, when the Rockets need the puck most.