The Golden Rockets started training camp last week, with head coach Chuck Wight saying that the team is itching to hit the ice for the 2021-22 KIJHL campaign after last season was mostly cancelled due to COVID-19.
While the final roster is not yet set, with cuts coming and an influx of players expected to join camp after the Junior A cuts next week, Wight says he’s already impressed with the depth of the team and the competition he’s seen so far in the pre-season.
“So far we’ve had a succesful recruiting process, lots of 2003s with some good potential, we’re goign to be deeper than last year where we had a hard time and never got to play with our full team,” said Wight.
“We had a good competitive weekend with the players and they’re all looking strong.”
Returning to the team this year is Connor Funke, Evan Angus, who was with the team two years ago but opted to stay home last year due to COVID, Jock Michael, Jordan Lario and Zac Siudy.
Wight says that the returning group is showing good leadership already, and that he expects they will announced their leadership group of captains and alternates prior to the season starting in October.
He also says that the team is already looking faster than in past years, something he thinks will give them an advantage this season.
The team’s 2021-22 campaign kicks off this Friday, Sept. 10, with a home and home exhibition series against the Revelstoke Grizzlies in Revelstoke, which Wight says will be a good measuring stick game.
Last year, the Rockets saw the Grizzlies in a home and home as their only games of the exhibition season, dropping both and getting outscored 12-2, as well as a regular season game that Revelstoke claimed 7-2.
Wight says he expects teams to look different this year, but that they won’t be seeing Revelstoke in-season as play will be limited to inter-conferance only, so it’s a good chance to seize up their neighbours to the west down Highway 1.
“Revy always has a strong program, and this is the only time that we’ll see them all year with the inter-conferance format,” said Wight.
“Last year was tough, but with a deeper team and younger defence, we’re ready to get going.”
Wight also says that the extended pre-season will help the team tune up prior to the regular season.
He also says he expects that fans will be allowed in the stands after the vaccine passport rollout on Sept. 13, something he thinks will make a huge difference.
“For some of these guys, it’s really going to be special to see the home crowd for the first time.”
The regular season gets underway on Oct. 1 against Castlgar at home.