It’s safe to say that the Kelowna Rockets have established a history of success as an organization in the Western Hockey League, complete with championship seasons and consistent development of players graduating to professional hockey.
Over the years, the team has iced a number of “brother acts” – a total of six in fact since the team’s inception as the Tacoma Rockets.
This season, there are two sets of brothers contributing to the team’s success as Kelowna challenges for another B.C. Division regular season title.
Callan and Nolan Foote, along with Reid and Eric Gardiner, are all playing key roles.
The Foote brothers are the sons of former NHL defenceman Adam Foote, a Stanley Cup champion with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996 and 2001. There is also an Olympic gold medal on Adam’s resume (2002).
The boys didn’t see much of their father playing during his prime, but they admit they have been the beneficiaries of his knowledge and support throughout their respective hockey careers.
Both Cal and Nolan grew up as members of the Colorado Thunderbirds organization near Denver.
In his rookie season last year, Cal proved his durability, appearing in 71 games. He scored eight times and added 28 assists. In the playoffs, he scored once and added 8 assists in 18 games.
This season, Cal’s NHL draft year, the Englewood, Colorado native has upped his game offensively. In 68 games, he has scored six times and added 51 assists, along with a plus 35 rating. He plays in all situations this season. It is expected that the 6’4, 210-pound defenceman will be called during the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft.
For his part, Nolan has steadily improved this season. He began as a 15-year-old and celebrated his 16th birthday on November 29. When asked, the youngster confirmed he wears jersey #29 to signify his birth date.
Nolan has appeared in 49 games this season, scoring 17 goals and adding 15 assists. At 6’3 and 177 pounds, there is certainly room on the frame for him to add weight. Nolan is eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft, which means if all goes well, he will likely have more than 200 WHL games under his belt by then.
We had some fun together chatting about the brothers scoring exploits.
Cal’s first goal this season came during a road game in Prince Albert, 20 games into the campaign.
Nolan, as a rookie, got the jump on his older brother, scoring in his fifth game this season, a breakaway marker assisted by his older brother.
You can see that goal by clicking right here, along with a great call by the Rockets veteran WHL play-by-play voice, Regan Bartel.
(Note: Cal Foote scored his first WHL goal in his second game as a rookie during a 7-3 win over the Kamloops Blazers on Sept. 26, 2015)
The entire family, Adam and wife Jennifer, has relocated to the Kelowna area, for which the brothers suggest they are very thankful.
We spoke with Cal and Nolan Foote in Kelowna at Prospera Place prior to the Rockets’ 4-3 overtime win over the Victoria Royals on March 10.