The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League 2021-22 season begins Oct. 1. Leading into the season we are providing previews on each of the teams.
Next up are the Golden Rockets in the Eddie Mountain Division. The Rockets were winless in two games last season, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which also cut short Chuck Wight’s first full season as Head Coach-GM.
Key Returnees: F- Jock Michael, Evan Angus, Connor Funke, Jordan Lario, Zak Siudy, Henry Loewen, Derek Teare, Andrew Teare. D- Nicolas Regan.
The Rockets have nine players with junior experience. Of their returnees, Funke and Lario scored two of the Rockets’ four goals.
Rookies to Watch: F- Aidan Ballance, Will Vernon, Dominic Fiorentino, D- Nathan Kaye, Liam Furlong, G- Levi Hall.
Ballance, 18 – Maple Leaf Athletic Club U18 – “He’s a very dynamic, offensive player, who will draw a lot of attention.” Had four points in six games last season.
Hal, 18 – Maple Leaf Athletic Club/Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) – “He’s very poised in the net. He’s one of those calm-moving goalies that tracks the puck well.” Had a win in three games with the Saints.
Vernon, 18 – Calgary Royals – “He has shown some promise in pre-season. He’s played a strong game, the last couple of games.” In 2019-20, Vernon put up 37 points in 25 games.
“We’re pretty excited about the crop of rookies,” says Wight. “Dominic Fiorentino (East Kootenay Avalanche) from Cranbrook is doing quite well.”
Season outlook: “Every team at the beginning of the year, you’re shooting for the playoffs. That’s the main goal. We have a bit of a youth movement and it’s going to be a great experience for them. We chose to play six exhibition games, that’s going to help a lot to get these guys used to the pace of play in the KIJHL.”
Coach’s quote: “We’ve got some good chemistry already, starting to bond and gel together. We’ll be more of a higher tempo team as we round out the last couple of pieces of the puzzle. We just have to be consistent with our level of play.”
Jeremi Delaquis – Blind River Beavers (NOJHL)
Lare Pahtayken – Melfort Mustangs (SJHL)