Kelowna Rockets forward Pavel Novak will play at home for the time being

Novak plays for Czech club

Czech forward Pavel Novak has found a place to play for the foreseeable future.

The Kelowna Rockets announced Monday they have loaned Novak to Motor Ceske Budejovice of the Czech Extraliga.

The move came after Novak posted a goal and two assists in five games at the recently concluded World Junior Hockey Championships.

The Tabor, CZE native was a fifth round selection of the Minnesota Wild in the 2020 NHL draft, but was not invited to training camp.

It's unclear if Novak would return to the Rockets if the WHL is given the green light to begin operating. Presumably, he would have to quarantine for two weeks if he were able to return.

The WHL last week said it is fully committed to a 24-game regular season.

The league, along with all other junior leagues in the province remain shuttered due to the latest provincial health order, which expires Feb. 5. At that time, the order could be rescinded, or extended.

Meantime, the Rockets also announced Monday it has placed 20-year-old defenceman Devin Steffler on waivers.

Over two seasons, the undrafted blueliner picked up a goal and 10 assists in 121 games.

'Committed to providing a season': WHL says 2021 campaign will take place

WHL says season is coming

The Western Hockey League said Friday it will stage a season in 2021, offering some certainty to players who have been weighing their options with other leagues and fans anxious for puck drop.

“The Western Hockey League is committed to providing a season for WHL players,” league commissioner Ron Robison said in a news release issued Friday night.

“This commitment ensures WHL players will receive the opportunity to compete at the highest level in the system and continue to pursue their hockey goals in the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players.”

According to the WHL, the league’s start date will be determined “once final approval has been received from the health authorities in each provincial and state jurisdiction and it is anticipated the approvals will be received soon.”

The league's announcement comes two days ahead of a Sunday deadline for Canadian junior hockey teams to release players to play in the USHL, an American junior league some WHL players had been openly considering in the event of a cancelled season.

Kamloops Blazers have one current and seven former players in NHL training camps

8 Blazers in NHL camps

The Kamloops Blazers are putting up a strong showing in the NHL this season, with eight players on training camp rosters. 

Connor Zary, a current Blazer, joins seven alumni in the training camps as the NHL gets set to start their unprecedented 56-game regular season on Jan. 13. 

Zary is participating in his first NHL training camp, after signing his entry-level contract on Dec. 31 with the Calgary Flames. 

He headed straight to Flames camp this week after competing with Team Canada in Edmonton at the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championship, winning the silver medal. 

As for Blazers alumni currently on NHL training camp rosters, the seven are Gage Quinney (Las Vegas Golden Knights), Joel Edmundson (Montreal Canadiens), Connor Ingram (Nashville Predators), Rudolfs Balcers (Ottawa Senators), Devan Dubnyk (San Jose Sharks), Garrett Pilon (Washington Capitals) and Cole Kehler (Winnipeg Jets).

Other notable mentions are goaltender Dylan Garand who was selected in the fourth round of the 2020 NHL Draft by the New York Rangers, and defenseman, Viktor Perrson, selected in the seventh by the Vancouver Canucks.  

Kelowna Rocket defenceman Kaedan Korczak says it hurt to have to settle for silver at world juniors

Korczak: Silver hurts

Great memories, great friendships but a terrible way to end.

That's how Kelowna Rockets defenceman Kaedan Korczak will remember the 52 days he spent with teammates at the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton.

The only downer to the nearly two-month experience was the way it ended Monday night, as Canada was forced to settle for the silver medal after losing 2-0 to the U.S. in the gold medal game.

"It was tough. You don't dream of winning silver, you dream of winning gold," Korczak told Castanet from Airdrie, AB, where he is spending a few days with relatives.

"Having it taken away from you right in front of your eyes...it was tough to say the least."

Canada had not lost going into the gold medal game, in fact, they had never trailed until the Americans opened the scoring late in the first period.

"It was 21 minutes of not Canadian hockey. We fell behind the eight ball and couldn't get back on the scoreboard."

Despite the disappointing loss, Korczak says he will take away a lot from his experience with the national junior team.

The biggest of those, the off ice relationships formed after being so close together for nearly two months.

"Today would have been the 53rd day. Last night when we said goodbye, it was tough.

"We got to be super close. It was definitely a great experience with that group of guys."

His biggest takeaway was just how tight the team was able to get.

Korczak says he was also fortunate just to be able to get some meaningful ice time.

While most players his age are unable to get much in the way of ice time, he was able to continue his development at a high level.

That will continue when he joins the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights next week.

Korczak will spend the next few days relaxing in Airdrie before he flies out Friday to join the Golden Knights.

He'll quarantine for seven days before he's able to suit up with the team.

From there, Korczak says he's unsure of what the team's plans are for him, or what the rest of the season holds with the uncertainty still surrounding a possible return to play for the Western Hockey League.

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