Wednesday, June 29, 2016

We are back!

AM 1150 Announces Exclusive Three-Year Broadcast Rights Extension with the Kelowna Rockets

– Veteran AM 1150 sportscaster Regan Bartel returns as the voice of the Rockets, marking 17 years of stellar play-by-play game coverage –
– Kelowna Rockets join an all-star sports line-up on AM 1150 featuring the Vancouver Canucks, BC Lions, Okanagan Sun, and Toronto Blue Jays – June 29, 2016

KELOWNA (June 29, 2016) – AM 1150 is bolstering its sports lineup as the station announced today a three-year renewal of its exclusive agreement with the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Kelowna Rockets, which sees AM 1150 provide exclusive, live coverage of all Rockets’ regular season and playoff games through to the 2018/19 season. Voiced by AM 1150 veteran sportscaster Regan Bartel, who marks his 17th season as the “Voice of the Rockets”, games will be heard over-the-air on AM 1150 in the Kelowna area and online at

“I’m honoured to bring the game to life for our listeners with front row, play-by-play coverage,” said Bartel. “The Kelowna Rockets are a vital part of this community, and we are proud to bring quality coverage of hometown junior hockey to our listeners.”

“We are delighted to continue our great relationship with the Kelowna Rockets, and we look forward to sharing the excitement of Rockets’ hockey with our listeners and clients through 2019,” said Ken Kilcullen, General Manager, B.C. Interior, Bell Media.

“The Rockets are excited to continue our longstanding partnership with AM 1150, and look forward to expanding our business relationship with Bell Media Kelowna over the next three seasons,” said Gavin Hamilton, Vice-President Business Development, the Kelowna Rockets Hockey Club.

AM 1150 also serves up robust daily reports and up-to-the-minute coverage of on-and off-the-field activities of the Kelowna Rockets. Joining Bartel during all Kelowna Rockets’ broadcasts is colour commentator Kent Simpson, offering enriched insight, expertise, and analysis into the game of hockey. The Kelowna Rockets broadcasts join an impressive sports line-up that includes the Vancouver Canucks, BC Lions, Okanagan Sun and Toronto Blue Jays.

The Kelowna Rockets 2016/17 season begins September 23.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Chizen taken late in NHL draft

Brayden Chizen
Shoot the Breeze Photography
It was a weekend Brayden Chizen will never forget.

The 18 year-old rookie defenceman was selected in the NHL draft in Buffalo, New York Saturday afternoon by the Minnesota Wild.

Chizen was chosen in the 7th round, 204th overall.

The St. Albert, Alberta resident believed he had an outside chance of being picked.

"I was in contact with a couple of teams before the draft. I knew it could be possible, if not this year than next year. If I didn't get drafted than it gave me a whole other year to improve. I wasn't expecting anything but I knew their was a possibility."

The 6 foot 8, 192 pound Chizen dressed in 45 games with the Rockets this season scoring once and adding an assist. He thought watching the draft on TV would be the best way to find out if an NHL team selected him, but it didn't turn out that way.

"The phone rang and it was my agent. He said, "how does it feel to be the newest member of the Minnesota Wild"? I didn't know yet, obviously, because nothing popped up on the TV but he explained it and it was a pretty cool feeling".

Chizen is now getting set for Minnesota Wild summer rookie camp July 10th.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Fritz' cup of coffee in NHL

Mitch Fritz subscribed to the theory, it's best to throw the first punch then receiver it.

The former Kelowna Rockets enforcer gave more than he took both as a junior player and as a pro. 

Now living in Osoyoos, BC, the 35 year old  spoke candidly during an interview this week on his first Western Hockey League training camp with the Kelowna Rockets, his 20 game stint in the NHL with the New York Islanders, his most notable fight and life after hockey.  

Fritz stood out like a sore thumb when the 6'8 forward attended Seattle Thunderbirds training camp in the fall of 1998. After being released by the American based team, Fritz quickly made his way back to the Okanagan to attend Kelowna Rockets training camp four days later.

"I was listed by Seattle and I went to their camp. They were four days ahead of Kelowna's. Skating obviously wasn't a strong part of my game so that extra four days of conditioning before I got to Kelowna probably helped me out. I remember the first day in Kelowna, Justin Jack was there. I think he was testing me a little a bit. We had a bit of a tussle. He had to goat me into it pretty much. I was definitely not into fighting back then. He was testing me and that is the kind of guy he was, a good organizational guy trying to test me to see what I was like. He ended up hurting his shoulder in the fight and after he was hurt they needed somebody so they kept me around".

According to, in two seasons with the Rockets (1998-99-1999-2000), Fritz would fight 52 times. It wasn't something he liked to do, it was a matter of something he needed to do in an effort to realize his dream of playing in the NHL.

"There was no other way I was going to make it. I would say it wasn't told to me but it was pretty much told to me that this is your job and if you want to do this job you will have a chance. I remember talking to different people outside the organization that if you want to make it, this is your avenue and you have to do it. If not, it is going to be a lot harder."

For seven seasons, Fritz toiled in the East Coast and American Hockey League and took on every would-be tough guy that wanted to make a name for himself. Then on January 11th, 2008, Fritz received his big break when the New York Islanders called him up to play against the Montreal Canadiens. Fritz knew his time in the NHL would be numbered, so he had to make the most of each and every opportunity. For Fritz, it was engaging in a fight with Canadiens designated tough guy George Laraque, who at the time was arguably the toughest player in the NHL.

"He was at the peak. He was the top guy. At that point it was almost like me getting to validate everything that I had done for eight years. I was either going to know if I wasn't good enough or good enough and I did pretty well".

Don't believe him? The fight can be viewed on Youtube where Fritz is seen tangling with Laraque, who at the time was 6 foot 3 and 280 pounds.

For all the fights that Fritz was involved in over his pro career, he thanks his lucky stars that he was never hurt and doesn't have the after effects of too many hard blows to the head.   

"One inch one way or another and ya, you could end up with major brain damage which could turn into concussions, depressions or that type of thing. Maybe I was a different style of fighter? I don't think my height hurt me. I think it was a huge advantage where I didn't get hit as hard as some guys that were a bit shorter. They had to take a few more punches maybe to land a few more."

After just 20 games with the Islanders in 2009, Fritz wouldn't see the NHL ice again. He would spend two more seasons with the American Hockey League's Norfolk Admirals before a hip injury ended  his playing career.

"I still often wake up from a dream about playing hockey but it is those weird dreams where you are trying to get on the ice but you can't find your skates or you can't find your gear. You are watching warmups and you are getting nervous and you can't get out there. It was tough to walk away from the game but I was content walking away and was fortunate I wasn't badly hurt," Fritz added.  

Monday, June 20, 2016

'Mozzy' says NHL will work in Las Vegas

Will the NHL work in Las Vegas?

Former Kelowna Rockets forward Tyler Mosienko thinks so.

The NHL has settled on Las Vegas as the home for its next expansion franchise, provided organizers can come up with a $500 million fee.

The 32 year-old played parts of three seasons for the East Coast Hockey League's Las Vegas Wranglers.

"When I lived there, there were over four million people that lived in Vegas. There are definitely enough people who live there and the NHL being the first major league sport to come to Vegas and get their foot in the door first would be a good thing for them."       

Mosienko says he often witnessed road teams struggle against the Wranglers when they arrived in Las Vegas a day in advance of the game.

"I don't know if it was a coincidence, I am sure it wasn't, but we always had a good home record," Mosienko chuckled. "When teams would come to town, I think they would probably go check some of the other stuff going on out for a little bit and maybe they weren't their sharpest for game night".   
Already 13 thousand fans have put deposits down on season tickets for the yet to be named Las Vegas franchise. 

Mosienko, who is spending the summer in England where he will play for the Sheffield Steelers this fall, believes on most nights they should play to a sold out crowd.

"I married a (Las Vegas) girl that was in the card dealing industry. There hours are a little bit different so some people work eight hour shifts starting at 8 o'clock at night or are starting at midnight and that doesn't always work out to be a sports fan right." 

Where did Mosienko and his wife Allison get married six years ago this month?  

In a small chapel in Las Vegas of course.

Friday, June 17, 2016

McColgan's pro aspirations on life support

Shane McColgan's hockey career is on life support.

The good news is the former Kelowna Rockets forward isn't about to let it go without a fight.

McColgan, who suited up for five seasons in the Western Hockey League with the Kelowna Rockets, Saskatoon Blades and Portland Winterhawks, has played a handful of games over the last two seasons at the Canadian university level and has spent more time injured than playing.

"The last couple of years have been an absolute blur to me, McColgan said Thursday from his home in sunny California. "Everything happens for a reason. I had to finally hit rock bottom to realize that I am not getting any younger now and I need to start getting serious if I want to play this game any longer."

McColgan was a highly touted bantam entering the Western Hockey League draft in 2008. The Kelowna Rockets selected the smallish Manhattan Beach forward with the 13th overall pick. In his first full season in 2009-2010, McColgan led the team in scoring with 25 goals and 69 point and was the Western Conference nominee for rookie of the year. He would lose the league honour that season to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels.

Despite McColgan's terrific start to his junior career, he never took his play to the next level and failed to blossom into the player many scouts envisioned.

"I had all the skills in the world but my mental game just wasn't there", McColgan admitted.     

A fourth round draft pick of the New York Rangers in 2011, the 23 year-old is confident he can regain his form now that his mental approach to the game has changed.  

"I am definitely re-inventing myself in all the right ways. I am changing how I go about life. I was all over the map before with my thought process and I didn't know what to do really. Now I have the capability to turn it around and things are looking up".

McColgan wasn't so positive if you spoke to him in January of this year. It was a heart to heart conversation with Kelowna Rockets General Manager Bruce Hamilton a month later that changed all that.

"I know I have always had a good relationship with Bruce. I know I can always go and talk to him. I wasn't even really planning on meeting with him and finally I said, "screw it, it can't hurt me to ask for help."

What was said between McColgan and Hamilton is being kept behind closed doors, but the 45 minute conversation seems to have renewed the fire in his belly for a game he used to dominate. 

"I envision getting a shot in the Coast (ECHL) on whatever team wants to give me a chance. But I don't want to stay there I can tell you that. My mindset is on other things. Realistically, it is starting in the coast", McColgan added.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Kobasew considering retirement

Chuck Kobasew is contemplating retirement and the Osoyoos resident, sadly, isn't likely to go out on his own terms.

The 34 year-old has been plagued by a series of concussions, the latest coming this past season while playing in Bern, Switzerland.

"I've had a few concussions in the last 18 months. I haven't fully recovered. This last one, I spent a number of months in a dark room, in the bedroom with no light and no noise. I was away from my family for four to five months. I just couldn't be around my kids playing and it has been my toughest injury todate".

Kobasew played one season with the Kelowna Rockets in 2001-2002 after leaving Boston College.  With arguably one of the quickest releases in the Western Hockey League at the time, Kobasew scored 41 goals and led the team to a birth in the Western Conference final where they were eventually eliminated by the Memorial Cup champion Kootenay Ice.

The father of two daughters (age 6 and 8) says with his symptoms persisting, it may be best for he and his family to call it a career.

"When it's your head, that's your computer", Kobasew added. "That's what operates your body and when that's not functioning, that's scary. It is a dream to play hockey and someone is telling you you possibility can't play again, it's tough to swallow."       

A first round selection by the Calgary Flames (14th overall) in the 2001 NHL draft, Kobasew has played 601 NHL games with the Flames, Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche and Boston Bruins.

"I am going to take the next month and hopefully get back to feeling like myself and I can decide what I want to do, if I am going to play again or that is it. I will leave that decision up to the doctors".

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Linaker has priorities straight by heading to university

Cole Linaker says it was a 'no brainer' to use the Western Hockey League's education program once his junior career was over.

The 21 year-old will attend the University of Alberta this fall after playing four seasons with the Kelowna Rockets.

"I am not going to be an NHL star. I think it is important for a guy like me to get an education and have something to fall back on like a degree.  Later on maybe I can try the waters like Europe or hockey here in North America".  

Linaker was born and raised in Edmonton, so playing this fall for the Golden Bears, one of the top Canadian university hockey programs in the country, will be a thrill.

"I am going into sciences off the start to get a feel back for school. Either after the first or second year I am planning on transferring either to an engineering program, which has been an interest of mine, or continue with the science degree and apply for a professional or graduate program afterwards.", Linaker added.   

Joining Linaker at the U of A this fall will be fellow teammate Jackson Whistle.