Rockets roster nearly set

The Kelowna Rockets moved one step closer to setting their opening night roster.

This week, the Rockets settled on their goaltending tandem, releasing Cody Porter outright and reassigning Roman Basran to the major midget Okanagan Rockets.

That means Brodan Salmond and James Porter will share the netminding chores for the upcoming 2017-2018 season.

Porter, 17, played parts of two games during the pre season, allowing just three goals in 57 minutes. He was credited with the win in both.

Salmond, entering his second full season with the club, allowed just one goal in parts of three games for a goals against average of 0.67.

The Rockets still have 10 defencemen and 15 forwards to go along with the two goaltenders on the roster.

Included in that list are defencemen Devante Stephens and forward Tomas Soustal, both of whom could find themselves on American Hockey League rosters this coming season.

Defencemen Braydyn Chizen and Cal Foote, as well as forwards Kole Lind, Dillon Dube and Carson Twarynski remain at NHL training camps.

The Rockets, who have concluded their pre season scheduled, are preparing for their season opener Friday, Sept. 22, when the Kamloops Blazers come to town.


Rockets close pre season

The Kelowna Rockets have closed the book on their Western Hockey League pre season.

They've done so a week earlier than any other team in the league.

The Rockets closed out a sparse four game pre season schedule Saturday night with a 4-3 shootout win in Kamloops, running their exhibition record to 3-0-1-0.

Their only blemish, a 5-4 overtime loss to the Victoria Royals.

Veterans heading to NHL training camps, for the most part, sat out the pre season, allowing rookies, second year players and those battling for jobs the chance to show what they could do.

Saturday, the Rockets were led by three players being counted on to step up to the next level in their second year with the club.

Kyle Topping, who led the team in pre season scoring with six points, had a goal and an assist Saturday. Leif Mattson scored his third of the pre season, while Nolan Foote tallied his first.

Despite being outshot 18-4 in the opening 20 minutes, it was the Rockets who jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Mattson and Foote. Topping made it 3-0 16 seconds into the second before the Blazers finally mounted a comeback.

Justin Sigrist in the second and Nic Holowko and Brodi Stuart in the third brought the Blazers even, forcing the shootout.

Jack Cowell scored the lone goal of the shootout while Cody Porter stopped all three shots he faced for the win.

Porter allowed all three goals in regulation time on 21 shots, while Brodan Salmond stopped all 24 shots he faced over the first half of the game.

The Rockets are now off for two weeks as they prepare to open the season Against the same Kamloops Blazers.

Between now and then, many of the 10 players sent to NHL camps, will be back, except for those expected to crack a professional lineup.

Rockets edge past Blazers

It was a night for the goaltenders at Prospera Place as the Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers did battle in WHL pre season play Friday.

The Rockets duo of Cody Porter and James Porter were just a little better than Max Palaga at the other end.

Porter and Porter (not related), turned aside 32 shots they faced as the Rockets edged the Blazers 1-0.

Cody Porter played the first half of the game, stopping all 21 shots he faced before James Porter came on in relief, making 11 stops.

The game was scoreless through 40 minutes, and appeared to be heading to overtime until Sean Strange took a checking from behind penalty with 1:24 left in regulation time.

James Hilsendager capitalized with a blast from the point that found its way past Palaga with just 31 seconds left.

Leif Mattson and Colum McGauley drew assists on the lone goal of the contest.

The Rockets finished 1-4 on the power play, while the Blazers were held scoreless on their four chances.

Both teams went with younger lineups as numerous veterans on both sides have left for NHL training camps.

The Rockets and Blazers meet again Saturday in Kamloops.

It will mark the final pre season game for the Rockets, who opted not to play during the final weekend of the pre season with 10 players gone to pro camps.


Rockets off to NHL camps

The roster of the Kelowna Rockets has been reduced by nearly a dozen as veterans leave the team for National Hockey League camps.

Ten players are on their way to pro training camps. Some will return at some point over the next few weeks, while others will find spots on a pro roster.

Those leaving this week include defencemen Braydyn Chizen (Minnesota), Cal Foote (Tampa Bay), Lucas Johansen (Washington) and Devante Stephens (Buffalo), and forwards Dillon Dube (Calgary), Kole Lind (Vancouver), Nick Merkley (Arizona), Tomas Soustal (tryout - Dallas), Calvin Thurkauf (Columbus) and Carsen Twarynski (Philadelphia).

Merkley, Thurkauf, Stephens and Johansen are all 20 and have signed pro contracts. All four are expected to find a spot with the big club or, most likely, the American Hockey League affiliate.

Soustal is not under contract, but could find his way on a pro roster if he shows enough in training camp.

Twarynski is also 20 and could stay in the professional ranks.

The other four, Dube, Lind, Chizen and Foote would have to crack the NHL roster or be returned to the Rockets.

"This is what they're here for. First and foremost we want to shape these guys into good young men, but when these players come into the Western Hockey League the dream for most of them is to try to make it to the NHL," said assistant coach Kris Mallette.

"So when they're able to get their foot in the door and be drafted or get a free agent tryout, it's good to be able to play a small part in getting them to where they need to be."

The remainder of the Rockets roster will suit up for two final pre season games this weekend against the Kamloops Blazers. The teams will meet Friday at Prospera Place and Saturday in Kamloops.

With so many players off to pro camps, GM Bruce Hamilton cut the pre season schedule short.

The Rockets will not play the final weekend of the pre season but will, instead, prepare for the start of the regular season on Sept. 22.

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