Kelly Guard is a Rocket again! The Okanagan Rockets Program have struck a deal with Kelly Guard, former Kelowna Rocket goalie to work within the Okanagan Rockets and BC Hockey Zone Program starting in August 2019.
Guard a former Kelowna Rocket will be best remembered for backstopping the 2003 Rockets to WHL League Championship and 2004 Rockets to a Memorial Cup Championship. Guard who currently is living in Prince Albert owns a Goalie Training Centre and has other goals, ones that bring him back to the city where the game gave him so much.
“Kelowna is a city has given me so much from when I was a young athlete. I learned about the importance of community involvement, and building relationships with people within the community. Kelowna has a special place in my heart because of the way I was treated. I look forward to giving back to Kelowna” said Guard when asked why the move back.
Guard was in town with his fiancé Jenelle Painchaud as guests of the Kelowna Rockets while they announced being awarded the 2020 Memorial Cup. Former Memorial Cup Championship teammate, Simon Ferguson who now coaches the Okanagan Rockets Major Midget team invited Guard out to work with his goalies. The feedback was the same from all the Rockets goalies, they all raved about the sessions with Kelly and what they managed to learn in short period of time spent with him. The players appreciated how much time Guard spent on the mental part of the game as well as the technical part of the game, something Guard works with all his clients on.
“I have been fortunate to be able to mentor and coach goaltenders at all levels after my playing career was over. I have a deep passion for the game and even bigger passion for developing goalies into smart and efficient athletes. I love the mental aspect of the position which is so key when mentoring young goalies throughout their season. I believe my playing experience coupled with my coaching experience at the WHL level, will be a huge asset to every goaltender I am fortunate to work with. I pride myself on not only teaching smart efficient goaltenders but also focusing on developing a complete hockey player. My motto is Everything Earned & Nothing Given said Guard of his philosophy and plan for the upcoming season.
“I’ve been in discussions with Kelly since he visited Kelowna earlier this past season” said Rob Evers, current Director of Operations and Player Development for the Okanagan. “There was a lot of time and effort put in to ensure the transition worked for Guard, his Fiancé, Zone programming and his current clients he works with to balance a schedule that would benefit all. I don’t believe we can have found anyone better form the job technically, with a such a strong connection to the community and people of the Okanagan.” added Evers.
Owner of the Kelowna Rockets Bruce Hamilton said “Kelly will be a great asset to all young goaltenders in the Okanagan Valley. He brings a wealth of experience and training ideas for all the players he works with. We wish him all the best.”
Guard will be working with the Okanagan Rockets Major Midget, Minor Midget, Major Bantam in the Rockets Program. Within the BC Hockey Zone Program, Guard will also with the Midget AA and Bantam AA teams from the North Zone, South Zone, and Central Zone.
“Working with a group that can progresses through a program for a possible 4-5 years we wanted to provide some consistency for the goaltenders.” said Evers.
Guard is very prepared and looking ahead to the upcoming season. “I’m extremely excited to be given the opportunity to work with BC Hockey's Goalies in the Okanagan area. Mentoring these young athletes will be a great challenge and I am looking forward to developing each and every one of them on and off the ice.”
It’s expected that Guard and his career in will spread throughout the BC Hockey programming and elevate these goalies to a championship level on and off the ice.