There hasn’t been much of an off-season for the Kelowna Rockets.
With the WHL draft, off-season moves, preparation for the 2020 Memorial Cup and the pending NHL Entry Draft, the Rockets have been preparing non-stop for the 2019-20 season which will see the club host the Memorial Cup tournament next May.
The WHL annual general meeting was held in Kelowna last week as league commissioner Ron Robison was on hand to address issues facing the league in the season ahead.
On the positive side, Robison said 2020 Memorial Cup in Kelowna is highly anticipated.
“It seems like just yesterday we had one of the most fabulous experiences anyone could ever ask for (in Kelowna) in 2004, which really set the new standard for the Memorial Cup,” said Robison.
“We’re extremely excited about the fact the Memorial Cup is returning to Kelowna. There’s no question that (the Rockets) will be a strong and competitive host.”
Robison said the league will continue to face challenges in remaining competitive for its share of the consumer entertainment dollars, seeking new ways to heighten the game attendance experience for their fans.
The league will also see a new team in Winnipeg this season, the former Kootenay Ice relocated from Cranbrook.
With the NHL entry draft on June 21, Robison anticipates a strong contingent of WHL players will hear their names called.
“Based on reports going into the draft, our players are highly rated, there’s a couple of Kelowna Rockets on that list of course, and we’re excited about the results of this year’s NHL draft,” Robinson said.
Potential early round picks among eligible Rockets players in this year’s draft include Nolan Foote, Kaedan Korczak and Lassi Thomson.
The Rockets return to action for the WHL pre-season starting Aug. 30.
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The pre-season will kick off the 2019-20 season for the WHL squad.
The Rockets will start the pre-season at Prospera Place on Aug. 30 for the first of a six pre-season games.
Kelowna will host the Victoria Royals, the first of three exhibition contests prior to starting the WHL season on the Sept. 21-22 weekend against the Kamloops Blazers.