Kelowna Rockets take a pair of centres in U.S. priority draft

Rockets target centres

The Kelowna Rockets put a premium on forwards, specifically centres, during the U.S. priority draft held Wednesday morning.

The Rockets selected 11th and 33rd in the two round draft of 2009-born players residing in the 20 western-most states stretching as far east as Minnesota.

With the 11th pick, the Rockets nabbed Okanagan Hockey Colorado centre Colton Lien.

In 17 games, the six-foot-two, 165-pound Lien scored 10 goals and 24 points in leading the team to the 14U Colorado state Tier 1 championship.

The Rockets then nabbed Drew Larioza with the 33rd overall selection.

A native of San Jose, CA, Larioza had 28 goals and 55 points in 36 games with the San Jose Sharks U14.

This is the fifth year of the U.S. priority draft.

Since its inception only defenceman Jackson Gillespie, taken in the first round of the 2022 draft has cracked the roster.

Forward Kalder Varga, taken seventh overall last year has signed a standard WHL contract and expects to battle for a spot on the roster at camp.

The bantam draft for 2009-born players across Western Canada and those not selected in the U.S. draft will be held tomorrow morning.

The Rockets, who missed out on the chance to select generational defenceman Landon Dupont, will pick fourth in the first round.

They have two picks in both the second (33rd and 38th) and third (60th and 61st) rounds.

Barring any trade day deals, the Rockets will have six of the first 78 selections through the first four rounds.

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