Saturday, June 28, 2014

It's not how you start, but how you finish

  • Justin Kirkland was grinning from ear to ear. Do you blame him? Kirkland became the third Kelowna Rockets player selected by the Nashville Predators when the NHL team grabbed the skilled forward Saturday with their opening pick in the third round. Kirkland also has the bragging rights of being the first draft eligible player taken in the Western Conference of the WHL. Kirkland is another example of a player that didn't necessarily start the season with a bang, but it isn't how you start in your draft year, its how you finish. The 17 year-old had just three goals in his first 16 games and went a full 15 games without a goal from late November to early December. Kirkland turned it on after Christmas though with 12 goals and 17 assists. The well spoken winger finished his rookie season with 17 goals.
  • Teammate Rourke Chartier also heard his name called on draft day. While not in attendance in Philadelphia like Kirkland was, the soft spoken Chartier was plucked in the 5th round by the San Jose Sharks. It is the first time since Scott Hannan was taken in the first round of the 1997 draft that the Sharks chose a Rockets player. Chartier started slow but ramped up his game as the season went along. With just three goals in his first 15 games, the Saskatoon resident would score 17 goals and would collect 26 assists after the Christmas break. Charter would finish the season with 24 goals and 28 more points than he did when he was named the Kelowna Rockets rookie of the year in 2012-2013. Chartier, while small at 5 foot 10, showed his durability by being one of just three Rockets to play in all 72 regular season games. Madison Bowey and Cole Martin also played ever game last season.
  • Only four NHL teams have never taken a player from the Kelowna Rockets organization. Those four teams are Montreal, St. Louis, Carolina and the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.

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