Korczak off to worlds

Kelowna Rockets defenceman Kaeden Korczak will compete at the Under-18 World Hockey Championships in Örnsköldsvik and Umeå, Sweden.

The championships begin Thursday and run through April 28.

Korczak suited up for a pair of pre-tournament games against Belarus and Russia. He registered a pair of assists in Canada's 6-5 overtime win over Belarus.

He has worn the Maple Leaf twice previously. He helped Canada win gold at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup last summer, and played for Canada Black at the 2017 Under-17 Challenge.

Canada has brought home a medal seven times at the under-18 championship, including three gold medals in 2003, 2008 and 2013.

They have been held off the podium the last three years.

Korczak and his teammates open up the tournament Thursday against Finland, before meeting Switzerland, Belarus and the Czech Republic to close out the preliminary round.


Lassi tops Rocket hopefuls

Defenceman Lassi Thomson should hear his name called somewhere during the first round of this June's NHL entry draft in Vancouver.

Thomson is listed 15th by Central Scouting in its final ranking of North American and international skaters and goaltenders.

Thomson led Rockets defencemen with 17 goals and 41 points during his rookie campaign. He is also the Western Conference nominee for WHL rookie of the year honours.

Four other Rockets also made it on Central Scouting's list.

Defenceman Kaeden Kroczak (32) and forward Nolan Foote (37), are both projected as possible second round selections.

First-year forward Alex Swetlikoff is ranked 175th among North American skaters while Roman Basran is 18th among North American goaltenders.

The draft will be held June 21 and 22.

Brown gets national call

Kelowna Rockets goaltending coach Adam Brown will join the Team Canada coaching staff for the Under-18 World Championships.

Brown will serve as the team's goaltending consultant.

He held a similar position with Team White at last year's under-17 hockey challenge.

Brown joined the Rockets coaching staff as a video coach in 2016 after his playing career came to an end.

Following four seasons with the Rockets (2008-12), Brown played three years in the East Coast Hockey League before ending his career in Sweden.

The under-18 championships run from April 18 to 28 in Ornskoldsvik and Umea, Sweden.

Rockets looking ahead

Bruce Hamilton admits a lot of work needs to be done to retool a team that will host the Memorial Cup 14 months from now.

He readily admits the Rockets may be hosting the event a year early in the current building cycle.

But, Hamilton also admits he is "fully prepared to do what we have to do."

A disappointing 2018-2019 season came to a disappointing end Tuesday in Kamloops. It means the Rockets failed to make it to the post season for the first time since 2007.

"I think you learn from adversity. We had lots of adversity this year, but when you got down to the crunch, and the game like Tuesday, which was a game seven, but when the real bullets started flying, we weren't there," Hamilton said following Tuesday's tiebreaker defeat.

"The toughest is there are three kids that are going to be high draft picks, and I always preach out of sight, out of mind. That's what happens when you're out of the playoffs. That's the hard thing for them. They all had opportunities to either move up or maintain their spots. And, now, they don't."

Hamilton was referring to forward Nolan Foote and defencemen Lassis Thomson and Kaeden Korczak, who could all hear their names called at the NHL draft in Vancouver within the first two rounds.

Now, as the dust settles on one season, the work will soon begin in what could be the most important off season Hamilton and assistant GM and head scout Lorne Frey.

Hamilton admits he will need to add two or three players to get to the level he wants to be.

"I think we're going to need an overage defenceman likely.

"Then, we'll see how the guys coming back as overages for next year...how they come through the summer and where they're at."

One of the avenues open to the Rockets is the European draft. The Rockets have a spot available after releasing defenceman Libor Zabranski midway through the season.

They'll have the 11th pick in that draft, and Hamilton says they may try and add to a thin defense corp with that selection.

"If we get a guy that potentially was drafted last year in the NHL that is freed up...that would be ideal for us rather than getting a 17-year-old.

"Or, stumble into another Lassi Thomson."

The rest of the heavy lifting would need to be done through the trade route, something he knows will not come cheap.

"It would be nice to be keeping all of our draft picks and still getting players, but I know we're going to have to use something as cash to get them.

"Nobody is going to help us. There will be a price put on everything."

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