Five Kelowna Rockets alumni will compete for U SPORTS supremacy at the 2019 Cavendish Farms University Cup in Lethbridge, Alta., scheduled for March 14 to 17.
The Rockets are represented with graduate players on four of the eight competing teams at the annual tournament. Tyson Baillie and Cole Linaker will suit up for the University of Alberta, Gordie Ballhorn will patrol the blueline for the Saskatchewan Huskies, Joe Gatenby will defend the New Brunswick Varsity Reds and Mitch Wheaton will be on the back end for the Francis Xavier X-Men.
All five players were members of the Rockets 2015 WHL Championship team.
Baille was the Rockets 3rd round selection (53rd overall) at the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft. In 329 regular season WHL games, all with the Rockets, the forward had 310 points (138G, 172A). He was nearly a point per game player for the Rockets in the playoffs; in 64 postseason games, he had 63 points (27G, 36A).
Linaker was also drafted by the Rockets at the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft, the centreman was taken in the 6th round (113th overall). He played his entire major junior career with the Rockets, dressing in 253 games and picking up 120 points (45G, 75A).
Ballhorn suited up in 175 WHL regular-season games, all for the Rockets, recording 11 goals and 49 assists for 60 points with 181 penalty minutes and a career plus-71 rating. He was recently named to the Canada West All-Rookie Team.
Gatenby, a Kelowna product, was drafted by his hometown team in the second round (34th overall) at the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft. The defenceman played in 174 games with the Rockets over three seasons, he had 44 points (5G, 39A).
Wheaton was also drafted by the Rockets at the 2010 WHL Bantam draft, the defender was taken in the 10th round (207th overall). Wheaton was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 5th round (139th overall) at the 2013 NHL Entry draft. In 100 games played with the Rockets over three seasons, Wheaton had 37 points (8G, 28A).
All tournament games, including the bronze medal game, will be streamed on USPORTS.LIVE. Semifinal action on Saturday, March 16 will be broadcast on Sportsnet 360 (1 p.m MT & 6 p.m. MT). The tournament closes on Sunday, March 17 with the gold medal final broadcast live on Sportsnet 360 at 6 p.m. MT.
The University Cup serves as the U SPORTS national championship for men’s university hockey in Canada. It was first presented in 1885. Having won the national title in 2018, the Alberta Golden Bears have earned Canadian University supremacy 16 times.
This year, a record 405 WHL graduates are accessing their WHL Scholarship, including 199 competing at the U SPORTS level. Established on a league-wide basis in 1993-94, over 6,000 WHL Scholarships have been accessed by WHL graduates, representing an investment of over $25 million by WHL Clubs. This season, WHL Clubs will contribute in excess of $2.6 million to the 405 WHL graduates utilizing the WHL Scholarship.
Administered by the WHL Office, WHL Scholarships are solely funded by the WHL member Clubs. Every player who plays in the WHL is eligible to receive the WHL Scholarship. For every season a player plays in the WHL, they receive a guaranteed, full-year WHL Scholarship including tuition, textbooks and compulsory fees to a post-secondary institution of their choice. The WHL Scholarship is a fully-guaranteed academic scholarship with no requirement to play university hockey to qualify. The WHL graduate can apply the funding to any post-secondary or career-enhancing program of his choice, including trades schools or professional career training programs.
CLICK HERE for a detailed list of all WHL Scholarship recipients for the 2018-19 academic season.