The Golden Rockets and head coach Jason Stephens have hosted a pair of off-season camps this spring and summer and soon their eyes will turn towards the club’s main training camp at the end of August.
Stephens says he is pleased with how the offseason has gone thus far, and feels the Rockets are poised for a turnaround in 2016/2017 in large part due to what should be a much-improved blue line that will be built around returning defenders Kyle Rosolowski and Stephen Gaughran, as well as some exciting new recruits.
“I see our defence being a strength. We’ve added some guys on the back end that I think are really going to help us…(this off-season) we definitely had to shore up our defence and take care of our own end,” Stephens said.
Gaughran, a U.S. import, joined the Rockets late last season and made an immediate impact while playing in all 5 on 5 situations and on the top power play unit, but was sidelined towards the end of the year with an injury and was only able to play in 11 games.
“He’s a big body, he skates well and he shoots the puck really well…from what we’ve seen of him, we really like what he brought,” Stephens said.
In goal, Keyon Bittner and Owen Sikkes showed flashes of potential last season and there is a good chance that both will be returning to the fold next year.
Up front, Rockets returnees should include local Jake Gudjonson as well as Riley Barnes and Terix Fischer-Kobes. It remains a weakness for the squad, but Stephens is hopeful that some new recuits can change that and allow the team to improve on the 106 goals they scored across last season’s 52 game schedule.
“We still need some more firepower up front…I’d still like to find a couple more guys that can fit in that top six role for us, but everybody’s looking for those guys,” Stephens said.
A pair of Goldenites will be working hard this summer to get ready for camp, with designs of making the team in September. Isaiah Fedow appeared in 8 games for the Rockets last year and is eligible to play midget hockey again next season if he isn’t ready for the junior ranks. Trey Beckett’s midget career is over and he’ll be hoping to make the jump to junior. So far, Stephens likes what he’s seen from both young players.
“They’re two guys that are on the radar right now…They played really hard at (spring) camp,” Stephens said.
Off the ice, the Rockets will welcome a new team president as Grant Holtz will take over for Curt Thorne.
The Rockets will hold their main training camp from Aug. 26 to 28 and the regular season will begin in September.