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WHL  

Rockets set league trend?

The Kelowna Rockets may be on to something.

After watching his team struggle to ice a full roster on the final pre season weekend, president and GM Bruce Hamilton decided it was time for a change.

This year, the Rockets cut own on the number of pre season games (four), and cut it short, electing to end a week earlier than the rest of the league. With so many players off at NHL camps at that time, Hamilton said it was difficult, and disruptive to try and put 20 players on the ice.

"When you get  down to this last weekend, you're usually playing just one game, and you don't have enough guys, so the kids you sent home 10-days earlier, you're bringing two or three back in," said Hamilton.

"You're just got them settled on their midget teams, and now you're asking those midget teams to release them back."

Hamilton says the biggest part was giving the coaches the ability to really work with the younger players.

"It gave our coaches two weeks to just work with our youngest guys on fundamentals, that you don't get time to during the regular season.

"And, I don't know if we have ever been healthier. When you get to this point in the season, if you've been travelling and playing games, you have half the guys with colds and everything else."

Hamilton says from what he is hearing, other teams in the league are looking at adopting the same philosophy for next season.

The two week break is rapidly coming to a close for the Rockets, who will open up the 2017-2018 regular season Friday night when they entertain the Kamloops Blazers.

Most players off at NHL camps have returned with the exception of Dillon Dube and Cal Foote. Hamilton says both are playing pre season games with Calgary and Tampa Bay respectively Wednesday, and could be sent back following those games.

Carson Twarynski is expected back Friday while Tomas Soustal will return home Thursday after being released by the Dallas Stars.

Soustal's return gives Hamilton and the Rockets two dilemmas.

It means the Rockets will have three European players on the roster and four 20-year-olds, one over the league-imposed limit for both.

Once he is placed on the roster, the Rockets will have 14 days to make a decision as far as the European ratio is concerned.

If the Rockets decide to move Soustal, it would solve both ratio problems. If he stays, the Rockets would have to move one of the two European players selected in the 2017 import draft plus one of the other 20-year-old, Twarynski or defencemen James Hilsendager or Gordie Ballhorn.



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