As the sun slowly sets on the shortest summer in Okanagan Rockets history, things will kick into high gear after Labour Day.
The Rockets will gather for the first time since their Evaluation Camp in early August on Tuesday evening, beginning a long week of practice in advance of the Rockets Annual Ice Breaker Exhibition weekend September 5-7th.
The club will be missing most of their committed players, who are away at WHL and BCHL camps. With some big players away, the spotlight shifts to the players who are in the mix for the Rockets remaining jobs.
"It's actually nice to have a few of the veteran, or committed players away. We know what we have in them. This gives us some quality time with the remaining players and a chance to really dig in on the players with us this week." said Rockets general manager David Michaud.
The Rockets will play in 4 games next weekend against South Delta Academy on Friday, MML rivals the Thompson Blazers on Saturday am, Okanagan Hockey Academy on Saturday night, and then wrap up the weekend against the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy from Vancouver Island on Sunday morning. All games during the 12 team event will be held at the Capital News Centre.
Michaud's goal is the have the Rockets 20 man roster selected by the completion of the weekend. "From our perspective, if we can just get it done, it will provide us with over 2 weeks of preparation time for our home opener on September 20th. With a new head coach, and so many new faces to our program this year, I think that time will be very valuable for us."
Having their roster selected by the 7th isn't entirely up to the Rockets however. With so many players away at camps, the Rockets are at the mercy of the junior clubs time frame. "It's the same process each year, we are used to it. I fully expect returning players Mitchell Oliver, and Mark Krabben to get long looks in Vernon and Victoria respectively, as usual, we will just have to be patient and see who comes back, or doesn't."