It’s been a whirlwind of a season for brothers Reid and Erik Gardiner but they’re happy to cross paths in Kelowna. They both entered the season not knowing where they would start off the year, but two trades later the brothers have now been reunited.
After 262 games over four seasons, and 220 points (106G, 114A) with the Prince Albert Raiders the elder brother Reid came to a crossroads in his career heading into his 20 year old campaign. Undrafted, Reid was invited to attend the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins development camp this past summer. He impressed them enough to earn a contract with their farm club the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for this season where he appeared in 23 games posting 6 points (3G, 3A) before his WHL rights were moved to Kelowna on January 6th and he re-joined the league as a Rocket.
Reid says that the opportunity to play in the AHL this year will benefit both him and the Rockets.
“I learned a lot in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, it’s a different game in the AHL. I want to take what I’ve learned there and bring it here to Kelowna,” said Reid.
For Erik cracking the Regina Pats roster wasn’t an issue of talent, but an issue of depth as the Pats are loaded with veterans this season. The second round-pick from the 2014 WHL bantam draft lead the Saskatchewan midget AAA league last season with 59 points (21G, 38A) in 43 games. He was off to a great start in the SJHL with his hometown Humboldt Broncos picking up 22 points (15G, 7A) in 25 games before the Rockets made a deal for him and defenseman James Hilsendager on November 30th.
Erik says he’s happy to get the chance to play here, but was over the moon to hear his brother would soon be joining him.
“It was really exciting to be traded out here, and to play for an organization such as the Kelowna Rockets,” said Erik. “I was really excited to see he had been dealt here, I’ve never played with him. It was really exciting for both of us, and our family.”
Erik is the taller of the two standing at 6’1, 182 pounds, while Reid measures at 5’11, 198 pounds.
While moving to another province can be a big change, the Gardiner’s have family in the Okanagan that they’re staying with to help them adjust.
Both Gardiner’s have already made contributions on the ice in a Rockets sweater. Erik has put up 6 points (1g, 5A) in 10 games, and relentlessly sacrifices his body to block shots. Reid made his much-anticipated debut with the Rockets this past Saturday against the Kamloops Blazers and scored a shorthanded goal that sent the game to overtime before an eventual Rockets shootout victory.
The brothers are excited to be here together as Rockets, and are looking forward to finding success on the ice together the rest of the season.
You can catch the Gardiner brothers in action tonight when they take on the Royals in Victoria. Game starts at 7:05 P.M.
The Rockets aren’t back home again until the 18th when they host the Moose Jaw Warriors at Prospera Place.