Rockets hire new assistant
The Kelowna Rockets dipped into their alumni to find a new assistant coach.
Kris Mallette has been hired to replace Dan Lambert who assumed the head coaching duties after Ryan Huska left the team for the American Hockey League.
Mallette, 35, is in his fifth year of coaching.
Most recently, Mallette was an associate coach with the BC Hockey League's Vernon Vipers.
Mallette, a native of Kelowna, played 152 games with the Rockets over parts of three seasons from 1996 through 1999.
The stay at home defenceman had four goals and 11 assists to go along with 494 minutes in penalties over that span.
He was a third round draft choice of the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1997 NHL Draft.
"This is full circle for me," says Mallette,
"I got my start back in the old Memorial Arena. Once I got into coaching my ultimate goal was always to coach with the Rockets. I'm fortunate with the success Ryan (Huska) had, he was able to move on. It's fantastic getting back to a team that has done so much for me."
During his professional career, Mallette played for eight different teams, racking up over 300 penalty minutes three different times and playing over 500 games.
"I wasn't the most skilled player so I had to rely on something else," Mallette says.
"I became a student of the game. I really paid attention to a lot of details and as my career progressed I spent more and more time picking the brains of the coaches I had."
Back in Kelowna after his playing career, Mallette joined former NHLer Brent Gilchrist with the Kelowna Minor Hockey midget tier 1 team where the pair won a provincial title. He then moved on to North Okanagan (KIJHL) first as an assistant and then as a head coach where he was named division coach of the year and then KIJHL Coach of the Year in consecutive years.
Vernon was up next where the former Rocket was an associate head coach with the Vipers last season.
Rockets' President/GM Bruce Hamilton says Mallette is ready for the challenge after paying his dues, first as a player and then as a coach.
"Kris has worked at every level to get himself to where he is," says Hamilton. "He came to us years ago and asked about coaching and I said he had to go and learn. He's done that. He's worked at every level. He's from a bit of a different era in our organization. It's a lot different than when he played, but he understands exactly what we are all about and he understands what the expectations are to play here."
A married father of two, Mallette met his wife Susie in Kelowna when he was a player. He's maintained a home in Kelowna since his playing days, and the couple are raising two daughters in the city.
"I was able to start my career in Kelowna and I've lived here ever since," he says. "It might sound corny, but it's a dream come true, for me and my family too."
Mallette will likely work mostly with the defence, a job Lambert held during his time as a Rockets assistant.
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