Catching up with Lorne Frey
The Kelowna Rockets earned a banner last season, finishing seven points clear of the Victoria Royals to claim yet another B.C. Division title.
Alas, that was a good as it would get for the Rockets, as the team was unceremoniously blasted out of the post-season by the Tri City Americans in four straight games.
The first-round playoff exit meant the organization would say an early goodbye to 20-year-olds Gordie Ballhorn, James Hilsendager and Carsen Twarynski. Forwards Kole Lind and Dillon Dube, along with defenceman Cal Foote are also gone, destined to play professional hockey this season.
The departures combine to create huge holes to fill for the 2018-19 season. The “grads” combined to produce 147 of the Rockets 280 goals last season. The blueline brigade accounted for 193 scoring points last season, with the departing players accounting for 136 of that total.
With no obvious gunslingers up front, scoring is certainly a question mark. On the young back end, questions also loom. Goaltending has potential to be a strong suit as long as the key players can stay healthy.
It has been quite some time since there has been much, if any, trepidation in these parts prior to puck drop in the WHL. As the Rockets prepare to host both rookie and main training camps later this month, it would appear the powers-that-be will be looking on in earnest to see who might emerge and lead during the upcoming season.
DUBNetwork sat down with Lorne Frey at Prospera Place as the maintenance crew was busy putting the finishing touches on the ice surface. With the lines neatly painted and all of the key logos in place, the building looks ready for hockey. Frey, however, joked that he might appreciate few more weeks away from the rink.
Frey, the Director of Player Personnel in Kelowna, is fully aware of what lies ahead, whether it be called a re-tool or a re-build. Either way, the Rockets know they have some work to do. In the coming weeks, the organization will be able to take a long look into its short- and long-term future.
Prospects like Ethan Ernst, coming off a Telus Cup championship with the Notre Dame Hounds and Trevor Wong, Kelowna’s first round bantam draft selection will be in town to audition along with an eager cast of hopefuls.
Frey was candid and informative with DUBNetwork. He continues to be the same energetic and thoughtful speaker hockey fans in the Okanagan Valley have grown to hold in very high regard.
We hope you enjoy his insights!