The Kelowna Rockets kick off their season on March 26th versus the Victoria Royals.
Kelowna along with Kamloops will have an advantage going into this season as they are the hubs for the BC division. Knowing all the quirky bounce spots along the boards could provide Kelowna with a boost this coming season.
Today, we take a look at the 2021 Rockets and how they can become division champions for the first time since 2017-2018.
The Rockets roster is set for the 2020-21 season.
— Kelowna Rockets (@Kelowna_Rockets) March 4, 2021
The Rockets will have one of the best defensive cores in the BC division this season. With returnees like Kaeden Korczak and Jake Lee, the Rockets should be to not only defend their zone but transition the puck extremely well. They have five returning defensemen from last season so this is an experienced group that knows how to win.
William Irvine is a player Rockets fans should be excited about. The sixth-rounder from 2018 put up big numbers last season with the Pembina Valley Hawks U18’s last season with 52 points in 42 games. The 5-foot-11 defencemen could bring a boost of energy to the lineup this coming season.
If this defense core can stay healthy, it will be a major problem for any team to handle. They are big, strong, and can transition the puck extremely well. Look for the blue line to play a big factor on the scoresheet this coming season for the Rockets.
A powerful offense:
The Rockets will have Pavel Novák back this season after a successful World Junior tournament. The fifth-round pick of the Minnesota Wild should be fired up to improve upon his 58 points in 55 games last season. Combined with the powerful Dillon Hamaliuk, this duo will be relied upon to lead a forward group that only features seven returning players.
There will be a lot of eyes on Trevor Wong this season as the former 18th overall pick from the 2018 WHL Draft will need to light the lamp more consistently this season. Wong has been successful at every level, so Rockets fans should expect a breakout season from him. This is an extremely important season for Wong as it is his draft year. Currently, he is slated to be picked somewhere between 29th and 38th according to various draft projections. If Wong can recapture the fire that saw him score 141 points in 30 games back in 2017-2018 with the St. George’s U15 Varsity Team, then Rockets fans will be hearing the goal horn go off quite a bit this season.
This forward group is a good combination of veteran players and up-and-coming rookies. They will have to overcome losing players like Nolan Foote, Kyle Topping, and Matthew Wedman to be successful this season. With a mobile defense and strong leadership, this team should have no trouble scoring this season.
The Rockets will have both Roman Basran and Cole Schwebius back this season, so the question is can they elevate their game to play at a high level. The Rockets allowed 208 goals in 63 games which was near the bottom of the division last season. They will need to get off to a hot start this season to be successful.
The concerning part for the Rockets is that for them to be successful, both goaltenders need to raise their save percentage and lower their goals-against average. Basran ranked 22nd in the WHL last season in save percentage with .905% while Schwebius was 32nd with a .898%. For Kelowna to be successful, they need to cut down on the 32.3 shots per game against last season and have their goaltenders elevate their game.
Expect the Rockets to compete for the BC division championship again this season. Although they lost some key pieces upfront, the rookies should help make up the difference. Kris Mallette and his team have a tough challenge on their hands this season. Regardless, they should be considered a contender this coming season.