The Kelowna Rockets have honoured former players Shea Weber (pictured with world junior medal) and Duncan Keith with special awards. (File Photo: Kelly Hayes - Castanet)
The Kelowna Rockets have honoured former players Shea Weber (pictured with world junior medal) and Duncan Keith with special awards. (File Photo: Kelly Hayes - Castanet)

Rockets honour Weber, Keith

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The Kelowna Rockets have honoured two of their own with a newly created team award.

The Rockets announced the first honourees of the new President's Award are Olympic gold medalist Shea Weber and Stanley Cup champion Duncan Keith.

The President's Award will be handed out to Kelowna Rockets alumni who have gained extraordinary recognition in the hockey world. It was created this year.

"I felt it was time that we created something that acknowledged the guys that gain things for our country or our city that are very important," says Rockets president and general manager Bruce Hamilton, who talked of the importance of Team Canada's gold medal at the 2010 Olympics of which Weber and Keith played key roles.

"Probably the greatest accomplishment in hockey in Canada for a number of years and you guys stood in there and you never forgot where you came from. Your communities of Sicamous (Weber) and Penticton (Keith) were proud."

Both players accepted their awards in front of dozens of former and current Rockets, coaches as well as spouses, girlfriends and children to kick off the Rockets Annual Alumni Weekend Wednesday night.

Former players gathered for dinner at Manhattan Point restaurant before a round of golf Thursday and a hockey game wrap up the festivities on Sunday.

"I just want to say that when I first came to Kelowna it was a tough decision," says Keith, who jumped from the NCAA to play a starring role for Kelowna. "But I think I knew within a couple days that it was the right decision. I want to say thanks for being such good friends."

Weber, just named captain of the Nashville Predators, praised the Rockets organization.

"I was a small town kid that got an opportunity to come to Kelowna and play hockey," said Weber. "I'd like to thank the Rockets organization. Without them I wouldn't have the chance to be where I am today."

An area near the Rockets dressing room, already home to paintings of former players, will also become home to the President's Award winners.

The Rockets alumni weekend continues with a sold out golf tournament Thursday and concludes Sunday with the annual alumni hockey game at CNC starting at 5:30.

Several former players are in town for the get together.

Those confirmed for Sunday include Weber, Keith, NHL Rookie of the Year Tyler Myers along with Josh Gorges, Vern Fiddler, Jamie Benn, Blake Comeau, Luke Schenn, Kelly Guard, Kris Mallette, Brett Palin, Kristofer Westblom, Cam Paddock, Cody Almond, Tyler Mosienko, Tyler Spurgeon and Justin Keller.

In the 10 year history of the event over $100,000 has been donated to the Kelowna General Hospital.

This year proceeds from the Rockets Alumni Weekend will go to the Orthopedic Ward at Kelowna General Hospital for the first year as the Rockets pledge to raise $200,000 over the next five years for the orthopedic ward.

Tickets for the hockey game are available at all Scotiabank Branches in Kelowna and at the door at the Capital News Centre.

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