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How the 2022 Rockets Opening Night roster was built

When the Kelowna Rockets kick off the regular season on Saturday, September 24th against the Portland Winterhawks plenty of familiar players as well as a handful of new faces will be in the lineup.

Single game tickets for Saturday’s game are available at Select Your Tickets. Tickets can be purchased online through www.selectyourtickets.com, at the Prospera Place box office, or by phone at 250-762-5050. Single game tickets for the remainder of the Rockets regular-season games will go on sale on September 29th.

Today we’ll take a look at the roster and how it was built.

  • Eighteen of the Rockets players currently on the roster were selected in the WHL Prospects Draft by the Rockets, with eleven of those players selected in the sixth round or later.
  • Gabriel Szturc is the lone European player, he was selected in the first round of the 2021 CHL Import Draft.
  • Max Graham, Colton Dach, Talyn Boyko and Adam Kydd were all acquired via trade.
  • Dylan Wightman, Scott Cousins and Nicholas Cristiano were listed by Kelowna.

Departures

The Rockets said goodbye to Mark Liwiski, Jake Lee and Tyson feist who all aged out after last season.

Pavel Novak (’02) announced in June that he was be stepping away from hockey for this season following a diagnosis. In his statement, Novak shared that he had been diagnosed with an oncological disease.

Twenty-year-olds

The Rockets currently have three twenty-year-olds on their roster, forwards Adam Kydd and Jake Poole, as well as netminder Talyn Boyko.

Boyko is currently away at the New York Rangers training camp as of September 21st.

Upfront

The Rockets will be counting on Colton Dach and Andrew Cristall to continue their scoring touch from last season. With the absence of offensive juggernaut Pavel Novak, Kelowna will be looking for their veteran players to step up offensively.

On the blue line

With Jake Lee and Tyson Feist gone, the Rockets will be looking for veterans Noah Dorey, Caden Price, John Babcock, Elias Carmichael and Jackson DeSouza to fill the void.

In net

All three names for goaltenders are familiar to Rockets fans.

Forwards:

Returning Forwards  Departed Forwards New Forwards
Max Graham Mark Liwiski Will Munro
Marcus Pacheco Pavel Novak Ethan Neutens
Turner McMillen Grady Lenton
Rilen Kovacevic Logan Peskett
Scott Cousins
Colton Dach
Adam Kydd
Nolan Flamand
Gabriel Szturc
Jake Poole
Dylan Wightman
Andrew Cristall

 

Max Graham

C

6’3

180

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2004 Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 64 10 23 33 43 Trade 2021 Kelowna, BC

Acquired from the Everett Silvertips in August of 2021, Max Graham found his stride playing for his hometown Rockets last season.

His 33 points (10G, 23A) were enough to catch the eye of NHL Central Scouting as the centerman was ranked 156th among North American skaters for the 2022 NHL Draft. Despite being ranked, Graham went undrafted.

He earned an invite to attend the Calgary Flames development camp this past July.

Grady Lenton

LW

5’11

187

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2005 Greater Van Canadians (BCEHL U18) 36 16 21 37 54 2020 Draft (8th RD) Delta, BC

Coming into training camp, no other non-roster player had more WHL experience than seventeen-year-old forward Grady Lenton. The Delta, BC product was the lone affiliate player to appear in a game with Kelowna last season and at the end of his U18 season, Lenton joined Kelowna for their playoff run as an extra body.

The seventeen-year-old posted 37 points (16G, 21A) and 54 penalty minutes through 37 games with the Greater Vancouver Canadians in the BCEHL U18 last season.

Lenton appeared in all five 2022 preseason games for Kelowna, posting two points (1G, 1A), two penalty minutes and 13 shots on goal.

READ MORE: Grady Lenton: Ready to translate experiences into full-time role

Marcus Pacheco

RW

6’0

184

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2005 Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 57 3 11 14 8 Draft 2020 (3rd RD) Edmonton, AB

Marcus Pacheco returns to the Rockets for his second season in Kelowna with added height and weight.

Pacheco posted 14 points (3G, 11A) and eight penalty minutes through 57 games as a 16-year-old rookie last season.

The Rockets third-round pick in the 2020 WHL Prospects Draft showed in the preseason that he’s more than ready for his sophomore year, posting five points (1G, 4A) in as many preseason games for the Rockets.

Turner McMillen

LW

5’10

170

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2003 Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 67 11 23 34 70 Draft 2018 (9th RD) Carievale, SK

With the departure of Mark Liwiski, look for Turner McMillen to take over the role of the Rockets sandpaper.

In addition to the grit McMillen plays with, the Carievale, SK product can fly. When given the chance McMillen can take off without notice.

The winger will be looking to grow on his 34 points from last season.

Will Munro

RW

6’1.5

190

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2005 Parkland Rangers (MU18HL) 43 25 20 45 32 Draft 2020 (11th RD) Swan River, MB

Selected in the 11th round (228th overall), Munro was the 15th last pick made in the 2020 WHL Prospects Draft.

After averaging more than a point per game with the Parkland Rangers of the MU18HL last season, Munro was signed by the Rockets this summer.

The Swan River, MB product showed off his size during the preseason, appearing in all five games for the Rockets he posted a goal and an assist.

Rilen Kovacevic

RW

5’11

180

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2004 Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 49 3 4 7 80 Draft 2019 (10th RD) Kelowna, BC

In his second season with the Rockets last year, Kovacevic finished second among all Kelowna skaters in penalty minutes with 80 through 49 games.

Known for bringing the grit, the Kelowna product showed flashes of a remarkable shot. He’ll be looking to grow on his seven points from last season.

In five preseason contests, Kovacevic posted a goal and three assists, as well as 14 penalty minutes.

Scott Cousins

LW

5’11

175

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2004 Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 36 3 5 8 2 Listed (2019) Prince George, BC

Scott Cousins will be looking to jump into the lineup more this season after often being the Rockets 13th forward early on in the 2021-22 season.

His season came to an early end after he suffered a fractured wrist that required surgery on March 5th against the Prince George Cougars.

The winger appeared in all five preseason contests for the Rockets, posting three goals and an assist.

Colton Dach

C

6’4

204

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2003 Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 61 29 50 79 53 Trade 2021 Fort Saskatchewan, AB

The Rockets leading scorer from last season will once again be depended on heavily for scoring heading into this season.

The Chicago Blackhawks second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft is currently away at the Blackhawks camp and his expected return date is unknown.

Held pointless in all five playoff games against the Seattle Thunderbirds last season, Dach will be eager to find the scoring sheet once he’s returned to Kelowna.

Ethan Neutens

C

6’3

190

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2005 Edge School U18 Prep (CSSHL) 34 7 16 23 12 Draft 2020 (9th RD) Cochrane, AB

Selected in the ninth round of the 2020 WHL Prospects Draft, Ethan Neutens spent last season playing at Edge School in Calgary, AB. After wrapping up his season in the CSSHL, Neutens appeared in three games for the Canmore Eagles of the AJHL.

The Cochrane, AB product signed with the Rockets in the summer. He appeared in three preseason games with the Rockets, playing both wing and centre.

READ MORE: Ethan Neutens: Ready to challenge for roster spot at camp

Adam Kydd

LW

6’0

187

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2002 Calgary Hitmen/Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 69 18 34 52 33 Trade 2022 Regina, SK

Acquired prior to the trade 2022 deadline, Adam Kydd found a consistent scoring touch with the Rockets. Through 39 games with the Rockets, Kydd posted 33 points (14G, 19A) and 21 penalty minutes.

The Regina, SK product will be relied on heavily as a 20-year-old. In three preseason games, he posted two goals and an assist, while registering ten shots on goal.

READ MORE: Adam Kydd ready to elevate his game for overage season

Nolan Flamand

C

5’9

181

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2004 Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 60 10 30 40 19 Draft 2019 (2nd RD) Saskatoon, SK

Flamand enjoyed a breakout sophomore season last year, posting 40 points through 60 games. He missed nearly a month of action in early 2022 due to a lower-body injury.

The Saskatoon, SK product was awarded the Rockets Hollis Pearce Award for Top Defensive Forward last season after he made an impact on all ends of the ice. Tasked with playing top penalty kill minutes, the Saskatoon, Sask. product led all Rockets centremen with a winning faceoff percentage of 51.9%

Ranked 218th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting for the 2022 NHL Draft, the centerman went undrafted.

Heading into this season, Flamand recorded five points (2G, 3A) in five preseason contests for the Rockets.

Gabriel Szturc

LW

5’10

176

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2003 Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 67 16 25 41 6 Import 2021 (1st RD) Cesky Tesin, CZE

Gabriel Szturc returns to the Rockets for his second. Looking more than ready to go, Szturc recorded five points (3G, 2A) in just three preseason games.

Originally ranked on Central Scouting’s 2021-22 Preliminary Players to Watch List released in mid-October 2021 with a ‘C’ rating, Szturc was unranked on the midterm and final rankings.

The Czechia product had an eventful summer, representing his home country at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in Edmonton this past August. Szturc appeared in all seven games for Czechia at the tournament, averaging 16:09 minutes of ice time, while posting six penalty minutes, a goal and eight shots on net.

READ MORE: Gabriel Szturc more comfortable heading into year two with the Rockets

Jake Poole

RW

6’2

197

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2002 Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 48 14 18 32 49 Draft 2017 (6th RD) Kelowna, BC

Twenty-year-old forward Jake Poole is heading into his fouth and fianl season.

The McAuley, MB product put together a career high nine game point streak last season, recording 14 points (6G, 8A) over that span. He also put up a career high five points (1G, 4A) on January 15th against the Victoria Royals. He then missed over a month of action due to appendicitis.

Poole rounded out the 2021-22 season with three points (1G, 1A) in the Rockets final three playoff games.

In two preseason games, Poole posted three goals and an assist, as well as a +6 plus/minus rating. The Rockets will be expecting him to continue this trend into the regular season.

Dylan Wightman

C

6’1

178

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2003 Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 54 4 10 14 15 Listed Kelowna, BC

Centreman Dylan Wightman was awarded the Rockets  Most Improved Award for the 2021-22 season after playing a specific role for the Rockets.

The Kelowna product was a fixture on the penalty kill last season, playing major shutdown minutes for the Rockets while being dependable in the faceoff dot.

Wightman appeared in three preseason games for the Rockets continuing his dominance in the faceoff dot, he won 25 of the 38 faceoffs he took.

Andrew Cristall

LW

5’10

165

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2005 Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 61 28 41 69 32 WHL Draft 2020 (1st RD) Burnaby, BC

All eyes will be on the Rockets 2022 Rookie of the Year this season. Cristall was able to put together a remarkable rookie campaign that saw him match and break franchise records. In addition to the Rockets award, he was named a finalist for the WHL’s Rookie of the Year after earning the title for the BC Division.

The 8th overall pick in the 2020 WHL Prospects Draft is now on the radar for the NHL Draft, with Craig Button naming him to his Half Dozen to Watch for ’23 NHL Draft.

Cristall has shown he has no plans to slow up from last season. He posted six points (1G, 5A) and six penalty minutes in five games with Hockey Canada en route to winning gold at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August. He then appeared in two preseason games for Kelowna, registering four goals and an assist.

READ MORE: Kris Mallette talks about Cristall’s deployment for the upcoming season

Logan Peskett

RW

6’2

178

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2006 West Van Acad. Prep (CSSHL) 30 13 4 17 40 Draft 2021 (6th RD) N. Vancouver, BC

North Vancouver product Logan Peskett will be the lone 16-year-old forward on the team this year. The 6’2, 178-pound winger put together a strong camp making his case to crack the roster.

He appeared in all five preseason games for the Rockets, displaying a net-front presence who isn’t afraid to play a physical game in the corners.

Defencemen:

Returning Defencemen Departed Defencemen New Defencemen
Noah Dorey Tyson Feist Ismail Abougouche
Caden Price Jake Lee Jackson Romeril
John Babcock Logan Dochuk
Elias Carmichael
Jackson DeSouza

 

Noah Dorey

D

6’3

192

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2003 Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 60 3 18 21 61 WHL Draft (4th RD) Surrey, BC

Noah Dorey returns to the Rockets after earning a rookie camp invite as an undrafted player for the second straight season. Last year he attended the Bruins camp, this year he was invited by the Oilers.

He’ll be looking to use his NHL experience to propel him to the next level this season and grow on his 21 points from last season.

Ismail Abougouche

D

6’2

188

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2006 Fort Sask. Rang. U16 (AEHL) 34 7 16 23 60 Draft 2021 (12th RD) Lac La Biche, AB

It’s not very often that you see the second last player selected in the WHL Prospects Draft crack the roster as a 16-year-old, but that’s exactly what defenceman Ismail Abougouche has done.

The 6’2, 188-pound defenceman appeared in all five preseason contests, often paired with veteran Elias Carmichael, he registered three shots on goal and a +2 plus/minus rating.

Caden Price

D

6’1.5

190

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2005 Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 47 2 19 21 21 Draft 2020 (2nd RD) Saskatoon, SK

Andrew Cristall will have a friend to go through the draft process with this season as Caden Price is also a highly touted prospect for the upcoming NHL Draft.

Price eased into his role as a 16-year-old defenceman as the season wore on last year, posting 24 points and a +24 plus/minus rating through 47 games.

Price jumped off the charts to the  NHL scouts at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup this past August. He appeared in all five games for Canada at the tournament, recording five points (1G, 4A) and two penalty minutes. Look for the Rockets marquee defenceman to continue his projection upward this season.

READ MORE: Kris Mallette talks about Price’s deployment for the upcoming season

John Babcock

LD

6’1

200

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2004 Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 57 2 20 23 41 Draft 2019 (5th RD) N. Vancouver, BC

Last season John Babcock led the Rockets with a +28 plus/minus rating. He finished the regular season with 23 points (3G, 20A) through 57 games, with every point notched at even strength.

Babcock made the most of the Rockets preseason, posting a goal and three assists over five games, as well as a +5 plus/minus rating.

Elias Carmichael

D

6’3

191

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2003 Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 57 3 12 15 31 Draft 2018 (2nd RD) Langley, BC

With 135 WHL regular-season games under his belt, Elias Carmichael holds the most seniority among Rockets defencemen.

Known for playing a quiet game, Carmichael spoke at length recently with kelownarockets.com about how he wants to take his game to the next level this season.

He looks more than ready to start chipping in more points, registering seven assists over five preseason games.

READ MORE: Elias Carmichael ready to embrace leadership role with Rockets

Jackson Romeril

D

6’1

185

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2005 IHA U18 Prep (CSSHL) 32 1 9 10 60 Draft 2020 (6th RD) Calgary, AB

Seventeen-year-old Jackson Romeril signed with the Rockets last weekend prior to making his preseason debut on Friday against the Vancouver Giants.

In two preseason games, he posted an assist, two penalty minutes and four shots on net.

Logan Dochuk

D

6’1.5

172

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2005 OHA Edmonton (CSSHL) 27 1 8 9 102 Draft 2020 (6th RD) Edmonton, AB

Dochuk’s name should ring a bell with Kelowna fans, he was called up to join the Rockets last November as an affiliate player when Caden Price was away at the Captial City Challenge.

He dressed for all five preseason games, recording two penalty minutes.

Jackson DeSouza

D

6’4

187

YOB 2021-22 Team GP G A PTS PIM Acquired Hometown
2003 Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 60 1 9 10 50 Draft 2018 (4th RD) Erie, CO

Tasked primarily with a shutdown role last season, DeSouza recorded ten points. Look for him to improve of those numbers while continuing to block shots and play massive penalty minutes for the Rockets this season.

Goaltenders:

Returning Goalies Departing Goaltenders New Goaltenders
Talyn Boyko  Nicholas Cristiano
Jari Kykkanen

 

Nicholas Cristano

G

6’1

175

YOB 2021-22 Team GP W L SOL/OTL GAA Acquired Hometown
2004 Fraser Valley Thunderbirds (BCEHL) 12 10 4 0 4.00 Listed Langley, BC

Nicholas Cristiano served as the Rockets third goalie during the 2020-21 Hub season. He made his  WHL debut against the Victoria Royals on Apr. 27, 2021, where he made 31 saves on 32 shots to secure his first WHL victory.

He appeared in three preseason games last year before being returned to the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds U18 of the BCEHL.

This season, Cristiano has appeared in three preseason games for the Rockets, posting a 2-1-0-0 record to go along with his 3.02 goals against average and .859 save percentage.

Jari Kykkanen

G

6’3

185

YOB 2021-22 Team GP W L SOL/OTL GAA Acquired Hometown
2004 Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 13 8 3 0 2.75 Draft 2019 (6th RD) Lloydminster, AB

 

Drafted by the Rockets in the 2019 WHL Draft, Jari Kykkanen started out last season with the Drayton Valley Thunder of the AJHL before signing with Kelowna just after the holiday break in December 2021.

He made 13 appearances in his first season with the Rockets last year, posting an 8-3-0-0 record with a 2.75 goals-against average, .897 save percentage and a shutout.

Undrafted, Kykkanen attended the Florida Panthers development camp this past summer, as well as their rookie camp last weekend.

Talyn Boyko

G

6’8

200

YOB 2021-22 Team GP W L SOL/OTL GAA Acquired Hometown
2002 Tri-City/Kelowna (WHL) 54 29 18 5 3.03 Trade 2021 Drumheller, AB

Talyn Boyko is currently away at the New York Rangers training camp. The 20-year-old was selected by the Rangers in the fourth-round at the 2021 NHL Draft, he currently remains unsigned.

Kelowna acquired the netminder from the Tri-City Americans on November 7, 2021. After joining the Rockets he went on to put up numbers that earned him the team’s MVP award.

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