- I have no idea which path Ethan Bowen chooses to take in his hockey career, but one thing is abundantly clear. Bowen is a man of his word. When I saw the 15 year-old prospect take part in Tuesday's first on-ice session at Kelowna Rockets rookie camp, that's the first thing that came to mind. Bowen, on the advice of his family (What 15 year-old doesn't receive advice from his parents?) made it to camp to give the Rockets a 'test drive'. It was something they promised to do when the WHL team selected the Chilliwack, BC prospect with their first pick in the 2017 WHL bantam draft. Teams stayed clear of Bowen at the draft as if he had a contagious disease. The skilled forward told many that he was considering the NCAA route and signed a players contract with the hometown Chilliwack Chiefs shortly after being chosen in the draft 39th overall. The fact is, the Bowen's are not coming into the WHL uninformed. Older son Ryan has played with the Moose Jaw Warriors and Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Bowen's know what the WHL can and cannot provide. That said....that said...I will argue that playing for the Kelowna Rockets is different than what the Bowen's have experienced with the Warriors and Hurricanes. My advice is to talk around. Ask former parents of what the Kelowna Rockets experience has been for their son and the family and make a decision from there. Let's use this analogy. You could say all Porsche's drive the same, but ask a expert driver and they will tell you that even though they are the same model, some just drive differently.
- Attending the morning session, two players stood out. The other Ethan - Ethan Ernst - really looked good. Ernst is the Rockets third round pick from May and looks like the real deal. Ernst, from Weyburn, Saskatchewan (God bless him) has size, speed and skill. Ernst looked like he could play now. With an above average frame, the 15 year-old was awarded a penalty shot in the morning scrimmage and made a nice backhand to forehand deke, only to be denied by the paddle of the goaltender's stick. Keep your eye on Ernst, specifically at main camp, as he hopes to turn more than a few heads. Playing in Notre Dame, he caught my attention during my brief viewing at Prospera Place.
- Officiating the mid-morning session was forward Nolan Foote and defenceman Brayden Chizen. The two called a solid game, awarding Ethan Ernst a penalty shot, yet they failed to see a clear infraction when Ethan Bowen was hooked down when cutting hard to the net. I say that all in jest fellas. Nice to see both guys on the ice and back for another season. Heck, Foote has a gold medal around his neck and a permanent smile on his face after helping Canada win it at the Ivan Hlinka. Both will play significant roles with the team this season.
- It appears Adam Brown has taken over the full time role as goaltending coach. Those duties were split between Brown and assistant coach Travis Crickard last season. But as we found out during the 2016-2017 campaign, Crickard was the architect behind the Kelowna Rockets power play. It was the third best unit among the 22 teams and was only outdone by the Regina Pats and Medicine Hat Tigers. Crickard is a smart hockey mind and thinks the game on a different level. With Brown now taking the full time reins as goalie coach, 'Cricks' can become the Rockets 'Offensive Coordinator". I am not sure he will ever acquire such a title, which first came to light when ex-NHLer Pierre Turgeon was named the LA Kings 'Offensive Coordinator' in July, but it would sure look good on him.
- I mentioned on Twitter than Prospera Place is featuring new glass and boards. I had a close encounter with it at the morning skate when on two separate occasions, two board battles in front of me had the glass, specifically, bend as two players made contact with one another before momentum took them both into the new glass. It made a thunderous thud, which should only add to the speed and physicality of the game for the hockey fan chewing on popcorn. More importantly, the new glass will provide some cushioning which means it will be safer for the player giving the hit and the player receiving it.
- Nice to shake hands with long time Rockets scout Bob Fawcett. Always positive and a keen eye for talent, the Saskatoon resident is another reason why the team has so much success at the WHL bantam draft table.
- I am interested to meet more of the veterans as the week goes along. I am often amazed how they change over a few short months. I haven't seen most of the veterans since the season came to an end April 30th against the Seattle Thunder Birds. What I want to see is who took their conditioning seriously and paid the price in the gym. Who mailed it in and believes they can make an impact on talent or luck alone? Every team has them, but a less than stellar off-season work ethic will soon have them exposed. Few can get away with it at the major junior level. I've heard a few veterans have stood out with their overall appearance. I won't mention them now until I see them for myself.
- The new boards at Prospera Place have no advertising on them. It is old school. Remember the days when that was the norm?
- The Rockets have won 40 or more games in five consecutive seasons. Can they make it 6 this season? The last team to do it? The Portland Winterhawks between 2009 and 2015.