The Kelowna Rockets will welcome two more veterans back to Kelowna this week as the team prepares for its 2015-16 WHL home opener this Friday night at Prospera Place.
Forwards Nick Merkley and Tyson Baillie have been returned to the Rockets from NHL training camps. Merkley was at his first NHL training camp with Arizona after being a first round NHL draft pick of the Coyotes this summer. Baillie had been with Calgary on a tryout and earned an invite to Flames main camp before being returned.
That means the only Rockets players still at NHL camps and expected to return to Kelowna are Rourke Chartier, who is in San Jose, and Devante Stephens in Buffalo.
Madison Bowey (Washington), Jake Morrissey (Winnipeg) and Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton) are all expected to graduate to pro hockey.
Other players that attended NHL camps but have already returned to Kelowna are Justin Kirkland (Nashville), Cole Linaker (Edmonton), Tomas Soustal (Calgary) and Jackson Whistle (Vancouver).
The Rockets completed a five game WHL exhibition schedule with a win over Vancouver on Saturday, going 3-2-0-0 in the preseason.
At its home opener on Friday, Kelowna will celebrate its 2014-15 season with a banner raising ceremony before the game as the team will begin defense of its WHL and BC Division titles against Kamloops.
It’s the beginning of the Rockets 25th year in operation and also the WHL’s 50th season.