South Okanagan  

Rockets to host top prospects

The Kelowna Rockets have completed Junior Hockey's version of the cycle.

The Rockets announced Wednesday they will play host to the Home Hardware Top Prospects Game February 1, 2012.

The Western Hockey League club has already hosted the Memorial Cup and the World Junior Championships as well as the CHL/Russia Subway Super Series.

The Top Prospects game features the top 40 eligible players from the WHL, OHL and QMJHL.

Players are drafted onto two separate teams who compete in a skills competition one night and the prospects game itself the next.

"I can't remember anybody, maybe one or two, that played in the game that wasn't drafted the next year," says Rockets President/General Manager, Bruce Hamilton.

"Once you're in, usually you have the door open for you."

Outside of the Memorial Cup, Hamilton says this is the biggest event as far as the NHL is concerned.

"I remember when this event was in Vancouver and the buzz that was going around. I think it's a natural for our city. I think it's an opportunity to showcase our city, our organization and our facility."

Along with hosting the prospects game, the Rockets are also aggressively bidding to host the 2013 Memorial Cup.

Hamilton says he doesn't think hosting this game will hurt his chances of hosting the Memorial Cup.

"I debated that when we were told we had been selected to host this thing," added Hamilton.

"I want to make sure that nobody thinks this takes the place of our bid for that."

If anything, Hamilton says the game could enhance the bid.

"This is something special. It speaks volumes for our city that we get selected over several big centres. Another thing is the NHL people want to come here. That plays a big part in why it gets selected because they have input."

Approximately 300 NHL personnel including scouts and representatives from all 30 NHL teams will be in town for the two days.

Prospera Place will be the smallest venue to ever host the Top Prospects Game.

Hamilton says he'll be happy if the event pays for itself.

"We're going to try to keep ticket pricing very reasonable. There's the skills competition on the 31st and the game itself on the 1st," says Hamilton.

"We're going to try and keep the pricing between $40 and $50 for the package. A lot of players in this game will be in the NHL the following year so it's going to be a great event."

Tickets for season ticket holders are expected to go on sale September 10. The remainder of the tickets will go on sale to the general public near the end of September.

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