WHL announce date change for Rockets Thanksgiving weekend date with Victoria

Rockets schedule change

The Kelowna Rockets have made a change to their 2023-2024 schedule.

The change announced Tuesday, affects a game scheduled between the Rockets and Victoria Royals at Prospera Place on Thanksgiving Sunday.

A game originally scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 8 has been moved back one day to Monday, Oct. 9.

The game on the holiday Monday will begin at 12:35 p.m.

Meantime, the Calgary Flames announced Tuesday they have released goaltender Jari Kykkanen from his amateur tryout.

Kykkanen, who played in part of one game during the Young Stars tournament in Penticton was invited to the Flames main camp.

He is expected to be in Kelowna in time for Saturday's home date with the Wenatchee Wild.

Only Andrew Cristall remains at an NHL training camp.

Wenatchee head coach suspended pending independent investigation

Wild head coach suspended

Wenatchee Wild head coach Kevin Constantine has been suspended pending an investigation.

The Western Hockey League says Constantine was suspended Sunday after the WHL’s "independent reporting channel received a complaint regarding his conduct."

The league announced the suspension Monday.

In a statement, the league says Constantine is not permitted to have any contact with any member of the organization, including players, while the matter is being investigated.

The 64-year-old Constantine was named the first head coach of the Wild in July after the franchise was sold and relocated to the Washington State city from Winnipeg.

"The WHL’s independent player advisory council is conducting an investigation into the allegations. The independent investigation began Sunday when the complaint was received," the statement said.

"Upon completion of the investigation, the player advisory council will provide a report to the WHL commissioner who will then make a determination on any further disciplinary action."

Wild management and the league's security network met with players Monday to address the situation and offer support.

Constantine was previously suspended four games and fined $5,000 while serving as head coach of the Everett Silvertips in 2006.

In that instance, following a pre season loss Constantine made his players make the bus trip from Kennewick, WA to Everett in their gear.

Details of these present allegations have not been made known.

Defenceman Jackson DeSouza rejoins Kelowna Rockets

DeSouza returned to team

The Detroit Red Wings announced Sunday that defenceman Jackson DeSouza has been returned to the Rockets for the 2023-24 season.

DeSouza, 20, was invited to attend the Red Wings rookie tournament as an undrafted free agent. Earlier this week his stay was extended after he was invited to their main camp.

It's expected that the 20 year-old will be in the Rockets lineup when they welcome the WHL's newest team, the Wenatchee Wild, to Prospera Place on Saturday, September 30.

Tickets for Saturday's game, as well as all other Rockets games, are available at Select Your Tickets.

Andrew Cristall (Washington) and Jari Kykkanen (Calgary) remain away at NHL camps.

Tickets can also be purchased by calling Select Your Tickets at 250-762-5050 or by visiting the Select Your Tickets box office at the Prospera Place box office.

The box office is open 10:00 a.m. to 4:00p.m. Monday through Friday, and opens at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday home game days.

Six and twelve game Mini Packs for the Kelowna Rockets season are now on sale through Select Your Tickets.

Portland get the win in OT in a 6-5 win over the Kelowna Rockets Saturday

Jittery Rockets fall in OT

Chalk this one up to a case of opening night jitters.

Whatever could go wrong did for Kelowna Rockets during a nervy opening 20 minutes in their kickoff to the 2023-2024 season Saturday against the visiting Portland Winterhawks.

Untimely penalties, costly giveaways and sloppy play behind their blueline led to four Portland goals and a 4-2 deficit after 20 minutes.

They were able to battle back and had a chance to win it, only to fall 6-5 in overtime.

"You've got a rookie goaltender in there, you have a real young back end and some guys up front chomping at the bit to get after it...we took some ill advised penalties and got off to a start we didn't really want," said Rockets head coach Kris Mallette.

"But, a real good second period and something we really weren't able to do last year, win a bunch of second periods. We came out of that with confidence so, it was a good first start."

The Rockets battled back in the second, getting goals less than two-and-a-half minutes apart from Ethan Neutens on a power play and Turner McMillen's second of the night to tie it.

Trae Johnson gave the Rockets their first lead since early in the first when Kayden Longley's centering pass from the left wing deflected off his skate and past Luke Brunen in the Portland net.

After a brief review, the goal was allowed to stand.

The lead lasted all of 2:45. Nick Johnson buried his second when he spun and send a shot from the bottom of the left circle that seemed to surprise Rocket starter Jake Pilon.

Marcus Nguyen beat Pilon to the five-hole on a breakaway in overtime to seal it.

The goal came seconds after Pilon attempted to hit Tij Iginla with a breakaway pass during three-on-three overtime. However, Iginla was gassed after a long shift, allowing the Winterhawks to go back the other way and end it.

Iginla, acquired during the off season scored the game's opening goal when he cut through the crease and tucked the puck inside the far post. Every time he touched the puck, the buzz in the arena grew in anticipation of something good happening.

"He's a good player, he just has to learn to use his teammates out there and that will come in time.

"We all want to be a hero and I addressed our group and said we are not defined by one player. When (Andrew Cristall) comes back, we are not defined by one player, we are a group, a team.

"But Tij has ability to change a game and he just wants it so bad."

McMillen, one of three 20-year-olds on the team, scored twice and added an assist while playing on a line with Neutens and new acquisition Michael Cicek.

The Rockets were without goaltender Jari Kykkanen, defenceman Jackson Desouza and forward Andrew Cristall who are all at NHL training camps. Defenceman Caden Price and forward Marcus Pacheco are out with lower body injuries.

The Rockets are now off until next weekend when the Wenatchee Wild make their first ever trip into Prospera Place.

The Franchise began playing in Wenatchee this season after relocating from Winnipeg.

More WHL articles