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Kelowna Rockets will get in a few practices before resuming shortened season Saturday

'The players wanted to play'

The Kelowna Rockets will soldier on and make the most of a difficult season made even more difficult from positive tests for COVID-19 within the players cohort.

A two week suspension of all team activities, which resulted in the loss of nine games from an already pandemic-shortened 24 game season, was finally lifted late Tuesday night, meaning the Rockets could begin skating Wednesday to prepare for a resumption of play Saturday.

"They want to play games," said Rockets president and GM Bruce Hamilton, who let the players and coaches discuss whether to resume Saturday or Monday.

"The players wanted to play. We honoured that, so we are going to honour our end."

Safety of the players and all involved is first and foremost, added Hamilton. "That's why we're not starting Thursday, and waiting to Saturday."

The games the Rockets lost can't be made up because BC Division games must be completed as scheduled May 12. Any possible extension would mean going back to the province for approval, something he indicated they were not going to do.

The five GM's will meet Thursday to finalize one extra game which would allow the Rockets to play 16 games compared with 22 for the other four clubs.

With Saturday's game their first in three weeks, and following just a few practices, Hamilton says the early going will be difficult.

"We'll be in real tough," he said, "because everyone is in mid season form, and we're just starting out again."

"Our guys will have to be aware of everything."

On the positive side, Hamilton says the players did have a chance to workout and stay in shape while they were in isolation,

"We've had a good Zoom program with them, and we were able to move some equipment around.

"Any billets that didn't have gym equipment and bikes, we moved stuff around for them.

"And, there were a few who had been in quarantine before that were in quarantine for this, so they skated through this whole thing on their own, without coaches."

But, it was the isolation that was the toughest, he said.

Players knew coming in there wouldn't be any social life. Players would go from the rink to their billets houses.

Now, add no rink, no one-on-one interaction with teammates and coaches.

"I think you find out things about them, about character," said Hamilton.

"If there ever was a test of adversity, this is certainly it."



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