For the first time in 551 days, the Rockets will hit the ice with fans in the stands at Prospera Place when they open their four-game preseason schedule on Friday night against the Victoria Royals.
The Rockets will host the Royals both Friday and Saturday night, both games will start at 7:05 p.m. PT.
“It’s definitely going to be strange,” said Kelowna Rockets head coach Kris Mallette when asked how it will feel to have fans in the rink again.
“It’s going to be a welcome sight for our players to have an atmosphere with people yelling and screaming. It was interesting last season, essentially just playing with the scouts watching up in the corner. I think everyone is excited all the way from management down to coaches and players.”
The Rockets roster was trimmed down to 26 players earlier this week, including three (3) goaltenders, eight (8) defencemen and 15 forwards. You can view the Rockets current roster here.
With Pavel Novak (MIN), Trevor Wong (FLA), Noah Dorey (BOS) and Tyson Feist (ARI) away at NHL camps, Mallette said that the younger Rockets will get the chance to play more minutes and important roles this weekend.
“What you see is what you get for the most part, with a few high-end players missing away at NHL camps. It’s a great opportunity for our younger players to get some valuable ice time and show our staff what they’re capable of throughout these four exhibition games.”
Rockets to keep an eye on:
- The Rockets are down to three goaltenders battling it out for the crease (Cole Schwebius, Cole Tisdale and Nicholas Cristiano). Schwebius, 20, is also one of four players fighting for one of three overage spots. Tisdale, 19, was selected by the Rockets in the 2017 WHL Draft and has spent the last two seasons in the AJHL. Cristiano, 17, joined the Rockets for the hub season as an affiliate player winning the lone game he played in.
- Kelowna is carrying their top three picks from the 2020 WHL Draft (Andrew Cristall, Caden Price and Marcus Pacheco), the trio are the lone 16-year-old’s left on the roster. This weekend’s games will be the first taste of WHL action for Price and Pacheco.
- Czech Republic product Gabriel Szturc will get his first chance to suit up in a Rockets uniform, the Rockets 44th pick in the 2021 CHL Import Draft arrived in Canada last week. Due to his late birthdate, the 2003 born forward is heading into his first year of eligibility for the NHL Draft. He posted four points (3G, 1A) in five games at the IHF U18 World Championship in Texas earlier this year.
- Seventeen-year-old forward Max Graham will play for his hometown team for the first time. The Kelowna product was acquired from the Everett Silvertips in late August.
There will be no printed lineup sheets available at Kelowna Rockets games this season due to Covid-19. A digital version will be uploaded to the Kelowna Rockets website by no later than 3:00 p.m. on gameday. The starting lineup and lines will be available on Kelowna’s Twitter account no later than 30 minutes before game time.
Watch and listen:
Kelowna Rockets preseason games are not streamed on WHL Live or broadcast on AM1150.
Tickets for all three preseason games are on sale at selectyourtickets.com, at the Prospera Place box office or by phone at 250-762-5050. Two dollars from each preseason ticket sold will be donated to Cops For Kids.
All fans attending games at Prospera Place will need to abide by the BC Provincial Health Authority, Prospera Place and the Western Hockey League‘s recently announced COVID-19 health and safety requirements which includes masks, double vaccination and their BC vaccine card.
The Rockets are set to open their regular season schedule on October 15, 2021, against the Kamloops Blazers. Season tickets are now available to the general public for the upcoming 2021-22 Rockets season. Click here for details and pricing.