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Rockets Kirkland and Chartier snared by NHL teams at entry draft
Two members of the Kelowna Rockets were drafted by NHL teams on the weekend at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in Philadephia.
Justin Kirkland was selected in the third round (62nd overall) by the Nashville Predators while Rourke Chartier was chosen by the San Jose Sharks in the 5th round (149th overall).
Kirkland, a 17-year old native of Camrose, is coming off his first full season with the Rockets. As a rookie the 6-foot-3 forward was eighth in WHL rookie scoring with 17 goals, 31 assists and 48 points in 68 games. He was also plus-23 on the season.
Kirkland was in attendance when he was drafted by Nashville, the same team that selected former Rockets captain Colton Sissons as well as Rockets alumni Shea Weber.
"What a surreal day for myself and my family," said Kirkland. "I'm very proud to be selected by Nashville. This is a dream come true."
A couple of rounds later it was time for second year forward Chartier to hear his name called.
Chartier, 18, was selected by San Jose in the fifth round after two solid seasons as a two way forward with Kelowna.
Since joining the Rockets after being the team's first round bantam selection in 2011, Chartier has won five team awards. He has twice won the team's scholastic award and was the Rockets rookie of the year in his first season.
This past year Chartier was named the Rockets top defensive forward, most sportsmanlike player as well as scholastic player. The 18-year-old played in all 72 games last season, posting 24 goals and 34 assists for 58 points.
The Rockets players were among 37 WHL players that were selected in the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Nine of the WHL players selected in the draft were chosen in the first round, including four players selected among the Top 10.
Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice was the first WHL player selected in the 2014 NHL Draft, chosen by the Buffalo Sabres with the second overall pick. Reinhart, a product of Vancouver, BC, becomes the highest drafted player in Kootenay Ice franchise history, and just the third Ice player to be chosen in the first round of the NHL draft.
The Vancouver Canucks selected Jake Virtanen of the Calgary Hitmen with the sixth overall selection of the draft.