If you’re wondering why the Kelowna Rockets have turned into one of the CHL’s top franchises, consider that president and GM Bruce Hamilton won’t hesitate to add staff if there is a chance it might benefit the players. Just prior to the start of this season, Hamilton added former WHLer Peter Soberlak to the staff. Soberlak, the chair of the physical education department at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, works with the Rockets in the area of sports psychology. . . . And now the Rockets have added Aaron Konecsni as a skating coach. Konecsni, 30, is from Kelowna and is the head hockey skating and skills coach at Redline High Performance Hockey, a business he began in 1998. “We assess, improve and refine individuals’ hockey skating techniques,” Konecsni told the Kelown Capital News. He has been working with the Rockets at practices and also on the skating treadmill at Redline. “Almost all players, whether they’re considered a great skater or not, have inefficient tendencies that can be fixed once we diagnose what those tendencies are,” Konecsni said.
Here’s a look at which WHLers will play in the World Junior Championship that opens Sunday in Buffalo:
The U.S.’s roster includes two WHLers -- F Mitchell (Dirty Harry) Callahan of the Kelowna Rockets and F Emerson Etem of the Medicine Hat Tigers.
The final Swiss roster includes F Nino Niederreiter and F Sven Bartschi, both of the Portland Winterhawks, but doesn’t include D Dave Sutter of the Seattle Thunderbirds.
D Rasmus Rissanen of the Everett Silvertips is on Finland’s final roster.
Included on Slovakia’s roster are G Juraj Holly of the Calgary Hitmen, D Martin Marincin of the Prince George Cougrars, F Dalibor Bortnak of the Kamloops Blazers and F Andrej Kudrna of the Red Deer Rebels.
F Marcel Noebels of Seattle and F Bernhard Keil of Kamloops made the German roster.
The Canadian roster includes D Jared Cowen of the Spokane Chiefs, D Tyson Barrie of the Kelowna Rockets, F Carter Ashton of the Tri-City Americans, F Brett Connolly of Prince George, F Cody Eakin of the Swift Current Broncos, F Curtis Hamilton of the Saskatoon Blades, F Quinton Howden of the Moose Jaw Warriors, F Ryan Johansen of Portland, and F Brayden Schenn of the Brandon Wheat Kings.
The Czech Republic roster includes F Antonin Honejsek of Moose Jaw, and F Robin Soudek and F Roman Horak, both of the Chilliwack Bruins. . . . It doesn’t include two other WHLers -- D David Musil of the Vancouver Giants or D Marek Hrbas of the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Musil’s chance of making the team may have been done in by a leg injury he suffered while blocking a shot a couple of weeks ago. He ended up with what was first reported as a hairline fracture of the fibula in his right leg, but was later said to be a deep bone bruise.
Included on Norway’s roster is F Andreas Stene of Kelowna.
Larry McNabb, a veteran of the hockey wars, lost his battle with cancer on Dec. 24 at 8 a.m. He was 71. McNabb never did play even one game in the NHL as most of his lengthy pro career was spent in the old Western Hockey League, with the Spokane Comets, Vancouver Canucks, San Francisco Seals, San Diego Gulls, Sal Lake Golden Eagles, Seattle Totems and Portland Buckaroos. . . . The Nanaimo Daily News has more on the life and death of a hockey legend right here.
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