Kelowna Rockets acquire veteran D in three-player trade

James Hilsendager
Image Credit: Keith Hershmiller via Kelowna Rockets

The Kelowna Rockets have acquired a veteran defenceman and a prospect forward in a trade with the Regina Pats.

The Rockets have acquired 19-year-old blueliner James Hilsendager along with forward Erik Gardiner, 17,  in exchange for defenceman Jonathan Smart.

Hilsendager is in his third full season with the Pats while Gardiner played two games this season with Regina before joining the Humboldt Broncos of the SJHL where he has 10 goals in 14 games as a rookie.

The trade comes after word the Rockets would be without veteran blueliner Gordie Ballhorn for six weeks with an (upper body/hand) injury.

“With the loss of Gordie, we felt we needed to get another older defenceman in here and Jonathan Smart was the player Regina wanted,” he said. “This brings us some depth on defense with a veteran player. With Erik, he has 10 goals in the SJHL as a 17-year-old and was caught in a numbers game in Regina. We look forward to him being a player for us in the future.”

Hilsendager has played in 135 career regular season WHL games as well as 18 more in the playoffs, including 12 last season when he was plus-four for Regina.

Gardiner scored 21 goals in 43 games last year in midget in Prince Albert before joining the Pats for the WHL playoffs.

Smart, 17, was in his second season with the Rockets, having played in 68 regular season games with the Rockets the past two seasons.


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