Rockets open rookie camp

The Kelowna Rockets' rookie camp got underway Monday at Prospera Place.

One hundred and sixty players are expected to attend camp, which runs through Friday.

They'll put their talents on display in hopes of earning a spot in the main camp.

"It's our biggest camp in about six years," says Assitant GM/director of player personnel Lorne Frey. "Normally, we only have 90 to 100 kids at this camp, but we're very excited to have a lot of good young players coming."

On-ice sessions will begin Tuesday. Main camp will open Friday afternoon and wrap up Aug. 29.

The Rockets will open their pre-season against the Victoria Royals at Prospera Place Aug. 30.


Brown off to Hlinka Cup

Kelowna Rockets goaltending coach Adam Brown is off to the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

Brown will serve as the goaltending consultant for the Canadian team competing at the under-18 tournament, which runs Aug. 5 to 10 in Breclaz, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia.

The Rockets coach is no stranger to international competitions.

He previously served as a goaltending consultant at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and this past spring at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships.

Canada has won the annual summer tournament 22 times in its 28-year history.

Lassi inks in Ottawa

Good news for the Kelowna Rockets in their hope of retaining defenceman Lassi Thomson next season.

The Finnish product signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Ottawa Senators Monday.

The deal comes less than a month after the Senators used the 19th overall pick to grab the Rockets defenceman in the NHL draft.

Reports out of Finland have indicated Thomson would forgo another year in the Western Hockey League to play with his hometown team in the Finnish Hockey League.

Thomson is under contract with Ilves.

Rockets president and GM Bruce Hamilton has been cautiously optimistic Thomson could return to the Rockets.

However, a lot of that, he said, hinged on whether he signs with the Senators.

"If Ottawa signs him, they're going to have a say in where he goes," added Hamilton.

In 63 games with the Rockets last season, Thomson scored 17 goals and 24 assists, tops among rookie defencemen.

His 17 goals were third best among all WHL redarguards.

"Lassi has great offensive instincts and an NHL-calibre shot," said Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion in a news release.

"He also brings a high compete level - he's always moving his feet and driving the pace of play. We came away from development camp in Ottawa very impressed and feel that he is going to be an important piece of our team's future."

Thomson will suit up with Finland at the 2019 World Junior Showcase later this month in Plymouth, Mich.

The event features teams from Finland, Canada, the US and Sweden as they tune-up their rosters for the World Junior Championships.


Fiddler on the bench

The Kelowna Rockets have brought in a familiar face to round out their coaching staff.

Vernon Fiddler, who played 152 games over parts of four seasons for the Rockets from 1997 to 2000, has been hired as an assistant under head coach Adam Foote.

He replaces Travis Crickard, who left the team following a mutual parting of the ways in December.

Fiddler retired in 2017 after a 15-year NHL career in which he amassed 104 goals and 157 assists in 877 games with Nashville, Dallas, Phoenix and New Jersey.

He spent last season as an organizational coach within the Dallas Stars system. He assisted with skills and development coaching with both the NHL Stars and their AHL affiliate the Texas Stars.

"He brings a lot, we're thrilled to have him join our organization," said Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton.

"We really wanted to find a forward for our coaching staff. I think it's great that Fiddler is a former Rocket player. He has some experience working with the Dallas Stars and had a great NHL career."

Fiddler joins Foote and other ex-Rockets Kris Mallette and Adam Brown on the coaching staff. Foote and Mallette were both NHL defenceman, while Brown was a goaltender.

Foote says he's excited for both the coaching staff and the players.

"In my opinion, from the years I played against Fiddler I thought he had a really high hockey IQ and I loved how he played with confidence," said Foote.

"He brings wisdom and years of his experience that our players have not had, that in the forward position can help teach them. I feel we're very fortunate to have a guy of this level on our team."

For Fiddler, he says it feels a bit like deja vu.

He said Hamilton gave him a chance in 1997 as an undrafted player, and now he is getting a chance in coaching.

"With my experience playing in the American League and the NHL as a solid defensive forward, I think that I'm going to be able to help these young guys with a lot of things," said Fiddler.

"Those things are what you need to be good at to make yourself a better player, from the things I've learned over the years and to develop into an NHL player I think that I can help these young guys."

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