Regan Bartel's 'Rockets Observations'

  • Head shots. No, not physical contact on the ice of the illegal variety, but photos taken of the players participating at training camp. I like to look through them once they are completed to see who the new guys are, so I can recognize them in an effort to introduce myself, but it also gives me a chance to see how players have changed, physically, over the past few months. I am not sure what Ethan Ernst's skin care regime is all about, but his head shot this year hasn't changed much since his prospect photo when he was 15. That Weyburn water must hold the properties of the fountain of youth!
  • The Rockets fitness test is Saturday. Under the watchful eye of athletic therapist Scott Hoyer, the player will be put through both strength and conditioning tests. Most players dread it, yet it's a good indicator of who put the work in during the summer. The result which I am most interested in seeing is the long distance run. Hoyer will have a different name for it, but it shows not only who has the best lung capacity, but who has the mental fortitude to break through the pain when the mind tells you to slow down or stop. I call it the 'Rourke Chartier event.' The 25 year-old often dominated and barely broke a sweat when he participated. His lung capacity was off the charts.  
  • Rookie goalie Justin Dueck is from Waldeck, Saskatchewan. Where is that? I know!! Why? I grew up in Swift Current, so the town of Waldeck is no stranger to me. It is along the Trans-Canada Highway, but don't blink or you will miss it. It has a population of 277 people. Just 18 k down the road, Waldeck is a German word meaning "Wooded Corner." It is named after the willows that grew along the banks of the Swift Current creek. 
  •  The 2018 WHL draft was a good one. Why? Seven players from that year have played a WHL game with the Kelowna Rockets. That class includes Trevor Wong, who was chosen in the opening round. Others in that class: Elias CarMichael. Jackson DeSouza, Noah Dorey Steel Quiring, Will Irvine and Turner McMillan. 
  • Of the 40 players attending training camp this week, 15 of them are from BC. Nine are from Alberta and 6 are from Saskatchewan. Four come from friendly Manitoba. Can you name the only American born player on the roster? Jackson DeSouza is from Erie, Colorado. 
  • Which city is most well represented at training camp? It's actually Kelowna. That has to be a first! Cole Schwebius, Max Graham, Rilen Kovacevic and Dylan Wightman are home grown talent. The city of Calgary has three players - Jackson Romeril, Jackson Smith and Alex Scheiwiller.
  • The most popular name choice of the 40 players attending camp? Jackson. There is Jackson Romeril, Jackson Smith and Jackson DeSouza. 
  • Who is the heaviest player at camp? Rookie d-man Jace Moffatt is 210 pounds. Moffatt is one of only three players that are over 200. Goalie Justin Dueck and second year d-man John Babcock tip the scales at 200 pounds each.
  • The tallest player is Jackson DeSouza at 6'4. 
  • Only 4 of the 40 players are listed. Goalie Nicholas Cristiano, Jace Moffatt, Scott Cousins and Dylan Whitman fall into that category.
  • Ten players are born in January. August, April and February have 5 each. November and December saw no players born in those two months. 
  • For those wondering, training camp is closed to the general public. The reason? COVID of course! 
  • Matthew Wedman has been invited to Ottawa Senators development/rookie camp. The Kelowna Rockets MVP from the 2019-2020 season was originally drafted by the Florida Panthers but didn't have his contract renewed. Wedman joins former Rockets d-man Lassi Thomson at the camp. Thomson was a first rounder of the Senators. 
  • Zach Franko is back in the WHL...sort of. The former Rocket is working with the Winnipeg Jets/Manitoba Moose organization as a scout. The 28 year-old will be based out of Portland, Oregon where he will have his eyes peeled on teams in the WHL that pass through there this season. 
  • How cool is it to see Quintin Laing join the coaching staff? The former Rocket will be a nice add to Kris Mallette's group. The two are former teammates and were drafted into the NHL at the same time. Why is Laing such a good fit and a good guy? He was born in Rosetown, Saskatchewan!!!
  • The Rockets home opener has changed. With concerns over crossing the US/Canada border, the team will open the season October 1st against the Vancouver Giants. They were scheduled to open the 2021-2022 campaign against the Everett Silvertips, but that game has been scrapped. The WHL sent out a press release yesterday stating that BC Division teams will play all games in October within the division. The same holds true for those in the US Division. 

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