The Golden Rockets are keeping busy as the KIJHL team is ready to go when the league resumes games. (Claire Palmer photo)

The Golden Rockets are keeping busy as the KIJHL team is ready to go when the league resumes games. (Claire Palmer photo)

Rockets keeping busy during COVID pause

The team is still practicing, waiting for the go-ahead for games

With the extension of the public health orders through to Feb. 5, the KIJHL continues to postpone games, waiting for the go-ahead from the province with the league still projecting a February start.

In the meantime, the Golden Rockets are keeping busy, doing their best to be game-ready for when the KIJHL regular season resumes.

While the league is in phase 2, meaning no contact, head coach and GM Chuck Wight says it’s given the team the chance to develop individual skills and practice their skating, something he thinks will give them the edge once they resume play.

“I can see a lot of the players really working on their skills and getting themselves to higher levels. The silver lining of all this is we really get a chance to focus on skating and puck control and passing skills,” said Wight.

While the players have been enjoying the individual development focus, team captain Brett Benson says his teammates are ready to start playing games.

“Chuck’s been great, we’ve been doing lots of power skating which is really helping the fellas,” said Benson.

“We’re feeling ready for sure, we’ve been practicing for a while now and we’re staying positive, trying to get better every day and stay game ready.”

The Rockets got off to a tough start to the season, dropping a pair of games before the season was suspended, which Wight attributes to a short bench due to injury troubles and a whack of new recruits playing heavy minutes.

Wight says to expect a more disciplined team once play resumes, emphasizing speed and playing a full 60 minute game.

“We’re looking at those games as our extended pre-season and we’re going to have the real season coming up,” said Wight.

“We want to make sure that the discipline is there. Last year, we had issues with disciplined play and staying out of the box, this year we can expect a team that’s more composed and plays a fast and aggressive style.”

Benson says the goal for the team is to maintain a winning record.

The break has also given the Rockets a chance to round out the rest of their roster, which Wight believes will help relieve some of the heavy minutes some players were getting.

Outside of practices, the team has been doing some team building, with the leadership group, spearheaded by Jackson Wade and Benson, taking new players out and about the community.

“It’s really important to get to know each other before you get on the ice together for a game,” said Benson.

“It helps you get to know the individual and their play style,” he added.

“If you know a player well, it translates on the ice and you can start clicking on those plays.”

With only eight returning veterans and a dozen players who are new to the team, both Wight and Benson are looking forward to seeing the new recruits take that next step and how it reflects in the team’s progress.

Wight says the leadership group has been good throughout the lengthy lay-off, keeping the team together and motivated for their on-ice sessions and prepared as they wait out the pause.

“Brett’s been really good, in terms of being able to communicate with the guys and he’s definitely a fun character,” said Wight.

“The leadership group all together has a good personality.”

The team is also doing their best to stay active in the community when they can, in accordance with all the public health guidelines gathering restrictions

One example is the team hosting a fundraiser with Little Mittens on Saturday, Jan. 23.

KIJHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Youth from Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and the Kootenays were able to dig into two evenings of online learning and connection through United Way Southern Interior B.C.’s <CODE>anagan program. (Submitted)<code> </code>
CODEanagan gives youth a chance to learn about technology

The youth, aged 12 to 21, built their own WordPress sites and developed blogging ideas

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

Sylvain Fabi, Canada’s chief negotiator for the Columbia River Treaty, joined a number of government and Indigenous government stakeholders for a virtual town hall on Feb. 24, 2021, to update the state of the Columbia River Treaty negotiations. Trevor Crawley photo/Zoom screenshot
Indigenous input key to Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Ecosystem function included in negotiations along with flood management and power generation priorities

Okanagan patients will benefit from the recent inclusion of the Medical Arts Health Research Group in a worldwide study with the National Institute of Health (NIH). The study will be a global collaboration for finding better treatments for COVID-19. (File photo)
Okanagan research group involved with finding better COVID treatments

Okanagan Medical Arts Health Research Group invited to collaborate in global study

Phase 4 of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project is on track, with closures expected to start as early as next week. (Government of BC photo)
Details announced ahead of Trans-Canada highway closures east of Golden

Closures will start in early March, with a month-long closure from April 12 to May 14

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Larch Place is the first building to be built in the BC Housing, Canadian Mental Health Association housing project at the corner of Third Street SW and Fifth Avenue SW. This view is from the Shuswap Street side where it sits behind the Graystone East building. (File photo)
Opening of doors at new housing development in Salmon Arm welcomed

BC Housing announces opening of 32 rental units, with 35 more expected in summer 2021

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

Most Read