Every August, Lorne Frey and his scouting staff get a chance to see the fruits of their labours at the Kelowna Rockets‘ rookie camp. At the same time, they’ll be taking a glimpse into the team’s future.
The Western Hockey League club kicked off the 2018 version of training camp this week, with close to 100 rookies taking to the ice at Prospera Place.
“We’re looking forward to seeing how all these players have progressed over the summer,” said Frey, the Rockets’ player personnel director and assistant GM.
Among the players drawing the most attention is the Rockets’ first-round pick, Trevor Wong. The 5-foot-8 forward, who was the Rockets’ first choice, 18th overall in the 2018 bantam draft, racked up 141 points in just 30 games last season for the St. George’s School Bantam Varsity squad.
“He’s a skilled and dynamic player,” said Frey. “He does everything at a high speed, and if he grows he will be lights out.”
The Rockets also have high hopes for their second-round choice, Elias Carmichael, a 6-foot-1 blueliner from Burnaby Winter Club.
Five of the club’s first seven picks were defensemen, helping the Rockets address their most pressing need.
“Some of our (2001 and 2002-born) defensemen are starting to show some promise, but we knew needed to shore up that area so we focused on getting some, big mobile defensemen in this year’s draft. We’re looking forward to seeing what they can do (at rookie camp) and in years to come.”
The rookie camp will run until Friday and Frey expects the club will carry about 10 to 12 players over into main training camp which begins on Saturday at Prospera Place.
As for main camp, assistant coach Kris Mallette said, like the rookies, the Rockets look forward to seeing how the club’s returning players have progressed since last spring.
“Our returning players will need to show management and the coaches that they put the work in over the summer,” Mallette said. “There are never any guarantees so everyone will need to work hard and compete for a spot on the roster.”
Kelowna will open its preseason schedule Friday, Aug. 31 at Prospera Place against the Victoria Royals.
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