After a long run to the Telus Cup last season with the Okanagan Rockets, several alumni are poised to play key roles in the BCHL playoffs.
Vernon's Liam Finlay set up the overtime winner in the Vipers game 1 win over Merritt, and Tanner Campbell set up Kristian Blumenschein's game tying goal in Penticton. The goal forced overtime, and ultimately led to the Warriors shocking the top ranked Vees.
"I'm not surprised to see these guy's step up on the big stage" said Rockets general manager David Michaud. "These players were all huge parts of our run last year, and I know that the experience they gained will help them through the grind of the BCHL playoffs."
Tyson Jost, the club's leading scorer from a year ago opened the scoring for the Vees after a strong rookie season.
Alumni contributors on the opening night of the BCHL playoffs wasn't limited to members of last seasons team either.
Brett Mennear chipped in with an assist for the Warriors, and Brent Lashuk scored for Powell River in their lopsided win over Victoria.
Other Rockets alumni that made their way to the big dance include Spencer Hewson with Nanaimo, Justin Marreck with Port Alberni, Mitchell Oliver, TJ Dumonceaux, and Linden Hora with the Vernon Vipers, Brendan Barry with the Penticton Vees, Mac Ferner of the West Kelowna Warriors
Add it all up, and the Okanagan Rockets have 13 alumni involved in the BCHL playoffs, a number the club is very proud of. "Winning is obviously lots of fun, however moving our players on to the BCHL and the Western Hockey League is our first priority. It's a fun time of year to keep tabs on our guy's. It's tough when they go head to head like we see in the West Kelowna vs. Penticton match up."
As the Rockets follow their alumni closely, they are also preparing for what they hope is another run of their own to the Telus Cup. "I always tell our players, if they want to move on winning at this level is the best way to make that happen."
The Rockets open defence of their BCMML crown on Friday night at the Capital News Centre. Puck drop vs. Greater Vancouver is set for 8:15 pm.