Rockets find good prospects at spring camp

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The Golden Rockets spent nearly 36 hours through three days at the East Calgary Twin Arenas on May 11 and 12, and have come away with some diamonds in the rough to add to the roster.

In the board room, Rockets head coach and general manager met with other coaching staff, agreeing that this year’s camp was packed with quality players.

Considering that the playoff-bound Rockets carried 20 rookies on their main roster by the end of the 2018-19 season, many of them from this very same location and camp the prior year, that is a huge testament to the caliber of players that converged in Southeast Calgary for this event.

It was clear from puck drop that camp participants were going to be strong skaters and more than a few were willing to crash and bang. Throughout the weekend, and especially on Sunday, there were a number of huge hits along the boards and in open ice. Within all of the speed and grit was a level of offensive skill and smarts leading to some highlight-reel goals that left goalies looking skyward. There were a number of younger players who played far above expectations as well, adding some intrigue to the behind-the-scenes discussions and giving Blumes and staff quite a bit of food for thought with regards to the Rockets roster makeup come September.

“There was a significant number of skilled, intelligent, hard working players competing all weekend, along with a promising group of ’02s and ’03s,” remarks Blumes, now heading into his second year at the helm of the Rockets franchise.

The participation of many returning Rockets players also added to the overall competitiveness of the weekend, with camp attendees getting a taste of the caliber of play expected of them through the exploits of such names as Dominic Turner (who tallied a ridiculous six goals and 10 points through Friday and Saturday), Alex Johnson, and Jaden Callan, who is headed to Melfort, Sask. in September. To absolutely no one’s surprise, the vets were generally among the best players on the ice and Rockets fans should be extremely encouraged by the sheer progression shown among some of their favorite players.

That’s not to say there weren’t any surprises. Surprises such as Terry Cahill from FUBAR making an appearance in full gear, who had a few shifts on team white, and accomplished a lot in those shifts including a fight.

Overall, Rockets fans can expect to see a number of new faces coming from both Coast2Coast Showcases in Golden for main camp which opens August 23. If this past weekend in Calgary was any indication, the Town of Golden will be looking forward to the most competitive main camp in team history.

Additionally, the Golden Rockets are extremely pleased to announce the commitment of forward Gunnar Keith from the Central Alberta Selects of the South Central Alberta Hockey League.

Keith, who hails from Byemoor, Alta., tallied 15 points (including nine goals) in 29 games played in the 2018-19 season. Over his two-year career with the Selects, Keith has appeared in 62 games, putting up 13 goals and 28 points over that time span. He was an assistant captain with his squad this past season, and also appeared in nine playoff games during his time with the club. Keith’s play at the Calgary Showcase lined him up perfectly for a commitment post-weekend, with his speedy north-south game.

“Character is always our number one criteria when selecting players. Every time I call to speak with [Keith] he is outside fulfilling his duties on the family ranch. Last season he drove 90 minutes to practice to play at the highest level possible,” extols Blumes of his newest Rocket. “His previous coaches rave about his humble and hard working nature.”

“In short, [Keith] fits the Rockets mould. The Plywood Palace faithful are going to love the way Keith plays the game. He was the most physical forward from the opening face-off to the final buzzer of camp. He skates very well for a big man, and I believe there is untapped offensive potential in his game that will translate very well to junior.”

Gunnar will have a busy off-season of completing Grade 12, ranching, along with training for next season. Gunnar is attending the Melfort Mustangs main camp in August, along with former Rocket Callan who has committed to the Mustangs the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League club. If Keith requires a year of Junior B, the Rockets are thrilled that Golden, B.C. is his chosen destination.

The next step for the Golden Rockets will be their last stop on the Coast2Coast Showcase tour in Saskatoon, Sask., from the May 31 to June 2.

Any interested attendees for the Saskatoon, Sask. showcase can register for the event through www.goldenrockets.com.

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