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Kelowna to host top bantam players

Some of the best bantam age players in Western Canada will converge on the Okanagan next month.

Along with them will be plenty of Western Hockey League and NHL scouts.

The top teams from the four western provinces plus the host Kelowna Bantam Tier 1 Rockets will compete in the Western Canada Bantam AAA hockey tournament April 3 to 6 in the Rutland Arena.

The tournament is being hosted by Kelowna Minor Hockey.

"This is a great honour for us to be hosting this event. It's the best of the best in the west," says KMHA Executive Director, Leonie Popoff.

"This is the highlight of these kids career so far."

The host Rockets, 27-19-3 on the season are preparing to take part in the provincial championships beginning next Monday.

Head coach Tom Watters says the team has been playing some of their best hockey of the season over the past month, but adds they will be in tough against the best of the best.

"We realize we are going to be facing some top caliber teams - the four best teams in Western Canada. As the host, we are hoping to put on a good display for those who come out and watch," says Watters.

The top four teams are going to have a little more depth than we have. I don't know how we are going to do, we'll find out at provincials next week. We'll face a couple of top teams there and that will lead us into westerns."

Watters says the team will also face the added distraction of playing in front of larger crowds and more scouts than they have all season.

The tournament will feature some top caliber 13 and 14 year old players, many of whom will be drafted into the Western Hockey League during their annual bantam draft this year or next.

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