Not since the spring of 2015 has Dan Lambert stood behind a bench at Prospera Place.
On Wednesday night, the 47-year-old native of St. Boniface, MB makes a return to the scene of his finest moment as a coach when his Spokane Chiefs take on the hometown Rockets.
Lambert spent six seasons on Kelowna’s staff, the last as the head man in 2014-15 when the Rockets defeated Brandon to win the Western Hockey League championship.
“There’s no doubt there’s going to be some mixed emotions,” Lambert said of his return to Kelowna. “It’s the first time I’ll have been in there since we beat Brandon. It’ll be kind of cool to be back there and I’m sure that many times throughout the day, I’m going to be going through a lot of memories of my time in Kelowna.”
Lambert’s Chiefs and the Rockets split the first two meetings of the season, both played in Spokane.
At Prospera Place, where the Rockets have won 13 of their last 14 games, Lambert knows his Chiefs will have their hands full. Still, the ex-Kelowna bench boss is embracing the challenge.
“The (Rockets) are always tough at home, maybe even tougher than usual this year,” Lambert said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge, looking forward to trying to beat a first place team. It’s going to be a great test for our players.”
Kelowna president and GM Bruce Hamilton said Lambert will always hold a special place in the Rockets’ organization.
But that doesn’t mean Hamilton wants his Rockets to go easy on their former coach.
“We’re looking forward to seeing him,” said Hamilton. “He was a special friend to everyone here and was a big part of this team for a lot of years.
“We wish him all the best, but not until after the game.”
Prior to the game, the Rockets will hold a special ceremony to honour Dillon Dube and Cal Foote, gold medal winners with Team Canada at the world junior hockey championship.
Face off between the Chiefs and Rockets is 7:05 p.m.