Anxious day for 3 Rockets

For three members of the Kelowna Rockets, this weekend could determine their next stop on hockey's nomadic highway.

Forwards Kyle Topping and Leif Mattson and defenceman Libor Zabransky could hear their names called during the NHL's annual entry draft in Dallas.

In Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, Topping was ranked 59th, Zabransky 115th and Mattson 157th, meaning each would likely be selected during Saturday's second day when the draft concludes with rounds two through seven.

Last season, Topping finished fifth in team scoring with 22 goals and 65 points.

"I have an open mindset. You never know what can happen on draft day. It's definitely super exciting and I can’t wait for the weekend. Most likely I'm just going to spend the day with my family and see what happens," said Topping.

Zabransky, a rookie with the Rockets last season after being plucked from the Czech Republic in the import draft, had two goals and 17 assists.

“I'm super excited and also nervous because you never know what the NHL teams want,” said Zabransky. “I will be with my family (Brno, Czech Republic) and trying to enjoy the day.”

In his second season with the team, Mattson had 25 goals and 60 points, sixth in club scoring.

"Going into the draft this weekend I would be extremely grateful to be selected," said Mattson.

"However, if I'm not, it’s not the end of the world. My main focus is improving my game this summer in order to ensure I have a very strong year in Kelowna this coming season."

The first round of the draft goes Friday evening.


Rockets deal for forward

The Kelowna Rockets have completed a deal with the Everett Silvertips.

The Rockets acquired 16-year-old forward Mark Liwiski in exchange for a third-bound bantam draft choice in 2019.

Liwiski was taken in the third round, 58th overall, by the Silvertips in 2016.

In 10 games with Everett, the 5-foot-11 190-pounder was held pointless while amassing nine penalty minutes.

He also spent 36 games with the OCN Blizzard of the MJHL. He scored 14 goals and added 11 assists for 25 points as well as 96 penalty minutes.

He also notched two goals and an assist in six post season games.

"He didn't play the full season in Everett last year, he was sent back to play Jr. A, but he was a guy that we liked in his draft year.  An opportunity came to get him so we took that," said Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton.

"He adds to the stable of guys we want in that age bracket to develop some more depth, and he brings character to our team."

The Rockets will get a fifth round pick from the Silvertips if Liwiski is not on a WHL roster after Jan. 10, 2019.

4 after 2020 Memorial Cup

It's a crowded field of cities hoping to play host to the 2020 Memorial Cup.

Four cities, including Kelowna, are officially preparing bids for the Western Hockey League 2020 event.

Kelowna is joined by Kamloops, Victoria and Lethbridge.

Victoria and Lethbridge made their intentions officially known during league meetings this week in Vancouver.

Kelowna hosted the 2004 Memorial Cup, but lost out to Saskatoon in 2013. Kamloops played host in 1995.

Neither Victoria nor Lethbridge have hosted the event.

In other league news, Kelowna Rockets president and general manager Bruce Hamilton was re-elected chairman of the board for another two-year term.

Hamilton has been board chairman since 2008. He also held the position from 1998 through 2004.

The Western Hockey League will also take additional measures to address player safety. The league says it will introduce new supplemental discipline regulations, and raise the standard on illegal checks to the head.


Rockets pre-season sked

The Kelowna Rockets have released their 2018 pre-season schedule.

As was the case a year ago, the Rockets will play just four exhibition games, and will not play on the final weekend before the start of the regular season.

With so many players off to NHL training camps at that time of the pre-season, Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton said it was difficult to ice a full 20-player squad for that final pre-season weekend.

The Rockets will play three of their four exhibition games on home ice again this season.

The schedule is as follows:

  • Friday, Aug. 31 vs. Victoria
  • Saturday, Sept. 1 vs. Prince George
  • Friday, Sept. 7 in Kamloops
  • Saturday, Sept. 8 vs. Kamloops

The regular season schedule should be released soon.

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