The Columbia Valley Rockies will effectively be a brand new team in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League this season, as they get set for their first preseason action on Wednesday.
As it stands, the Rockies have seven confirmed players that are returning to the team for the 2019/20 season while three others remain on their Reserve roster, potentially earning a roster spot at Junior A.
Connor Davison, Dylan Fontaine, Kale Hawryluk, and Erik Lloyd could all potentially return to the Rockies but are not on the active roster. The Rockies instead have Gavin Fleck, Loclyn Kabatoff, Logan MacDonald, Brennan Nelson, Greg Parker, Dace Prymak, and Mason Robinson all confirmed back for the upcoming season.
Not having a large number of returning players, Wade Dubielewicz isn’t phased, believing they have a strong rookie class.
“We’re really happy with how we’ve recruited, we’ve got a lot of new young players who play the game fast, have high compete and it’s really exciting,” Dubielewicz told MyEastKootenayNow.com. “We have an opportunity to build the culture that we feel is best. When you don’t have many returning players, you can set the bar as high as you want and that’s the norm for the new kids.”
Dubielewicz said the acquisition of 18-year-old forward Khale Skinner will be a big boost for the Rockies this year, believing the Sylvan Lake, AB native is a very mature kid that will most likely be one of their leaders by seasons end.
The Columbia Valley Rockies are happy to announce the acquisition of Khale Skinner from the Red Deer Vipers. Khale is a big strong power forward with a history of finding the back of the net. Welcome to the Rockies!! @SkinnerKhale @kijhl pic.twitter.com/NqcEpzARmU
— CV Rockies (@CV_Rockies) August 9, 2019
As well, Dubielewicz is happy to have Loclyn Kabatoff back, saying he was one of their best defensemen last year and will no doubt step into more of a leadership role this season.
“I think as a group this year, we’ve done a pretty good job of starting to adapt our culture to a more winning atmosphere and by doing that, I think it’s going to allow us to grow during the season and be one of those teams that are in the hunt for the championship.”
The Columbia Valley Rockies are hoping to improve upon last season’s early exit from the KIJHL Playoffs, getting swept in the opening round by the Fernie Ghostriders.
Reloading for the new season with a younger roster, Dubielewicz took a different tactic than others in the Eddie Mountain Division, opting to play three preseason games and focus more on Training Camp.
“We’ve chosen to have a really small Main Camp, I only have 25 kids in so we were literally getting into a lot of team play,” said Dubielewicz. “We went with a smaller camp and decided to get right into things rather than a bigger camp.”
The Rockies open their KIJHL preseason at 7:30 pm on Wednesday on the road against the Golden Rockets, before a home-and-home series over the weekend against the Revelstoke Grizzlies. Those weekend games will serve as the team’s final tune-up before their regular season opener on Friday, September 13th against the Osoyoos Coyotes.
— CV Rockies (@CV_Rockies) September 4, 2019