January 07, 2014 - 2:52 PM
KELOWNA - The Kelowna Rockets are riding high these days, with enough wins under their belt to rank number one in the Canadian Hockey League, a recent 16 game victory spree, and today the announcement that three of their alumni have been chosen to represent Canada at the Sochi Olympic games.
BMO announced January 2 that in week 15, the team reached the top spot in the CHL top ten rankings. The weekly rankings are selected by a panel of National Hockey League scouts. The following night, the 16-game winning streak was snapped by the Vancouver Giants 4-2. It was the ninth game on the road since December 10. Only one game during that time took place on home turf, against the Kamloops Blazers. The team heads out again January 8 to face-off against the Edmonton Oil Kings, beginning another round of six games away.
The rise in the ranking seems to have increased local interest. With a seating capacity of 6,886 at Prospera Place, the team attracted 6,172 in their recent home game against Vancouver January 4 and 6,324 ticket purchasers for their game against Kamloops December 27. While the numbers seem high, the Rockets have enjoyed a fairly steady attendance this season of between 4,621 and 5,564, until the recent surge.
And if all that weren't enough, the roster for Team Canada, announced today, includes three of the Rockets' alumni to represent Canada at the Sochi Olympic games. Duncan Keith of Penticton, Shea Weber of Sicamous and Jamie Benn of Victoria all played in the Western Hockey League for the Kelowna Rockets before making it to the National Hockey League. Three more were added to the Sochi games rosters, to play for other countries.
Vancouver Canucks Alex Edler will play for Team Sweden while two other former European imports will also suit up. Also named to compete in the hockey tournament at Sochi were Latvian Lauris Darzins who is currently playing with the Kontinental Hockey League's Chelyabinsk Traktor’s. Darzins has been named to Team Latvia. Austrain Thomas Raffl—who played 15 games for the Rockets in 2005-06—of the EC Salzburg from the Austrian Hockey League, was named to Team Austria.
This story was updated with notes from kelownarockets.com at 11:21 a.m. January 8 to include the names of three more former Rockets players playing for other countries at the Sochi Olympics.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014